updated 09:15 am EDT, Tue July 19, 2011
Google chair claims innocence in Android lawsuits
Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt in a speech at his company's Mobile Revolution conference in Tokyo claimed that lawsuits and trade disputes from Apple and Microsoft were just the result of jealousy. The two were mad at the rapid growth of Android, now up to 550,000 activations a day, and were only trying to slow it down. Google had "not done anything wrong" in spite of ITC findings of patent violations, and competitors were just envious of Android features.
"Because they are not responding with innovation, they're responding with lawsuits," Perth Now heard among the remarks.
Google was supporting HTC in trying to appeal the loss to the ITC, although it wasn't clear whether this would be anything other than moral support. The company has historically done little in public to materially support partners facing lawsuits. It has also been unusually timid in securing patents; during the recent Nortel patent bid, it backed off suddenly despite knowing that a coalition headed by Apple, Microsoft, and RIM was in the running and could likely use the 6,000 patents to sue Google's partners again.
The statements are slightly ironic for Schmidt. Much of Android's early direction was influenced by the iPhone. It was originally unveiled as a BlackBerry-like design with only some concessions made to touch, but the success of the iPhone led to a conspicuous refocus on touchscreens as well as attempts to fill out services that it was missing that Apple had. Microsoft's Windows Phone in turn has been described as one of the few genuinely innovative operating systems in the post-iPhone era with a focus on home tiles and task-oriented hubs rather than just isolated apps.
It's nonetheless widely presumed that Apple and Microsoft are using lawsuits to slow Google down and reducing the incentives to choose Android for those who aren't making their own platforms. Google makes Android free to license, but patent royalties could negate much of the difference. Some companies in China are moving to Windows Phone for at least a piece of their lineups, since it either avoids royalty payouts altogether or reduces the likelihood Microsoft will try to demand a toll.