By Greg Mills
The legal problems the Android OS is facing over patent infringement is certain to help alternative smartphone platforms. The large market share Android now holds may soon be divided into market segments going to surviving smartphone platforms. If Apple manages to crush or seriously stumble Google's legally indefensible Android platform, the iOS is sure to be the biggest winner. iOS developers will come out on top.
The epic patent war going on, pitting Apple against every Android handset maker and Google itself facing Oracle, will, at a minimum, force a major recompilation of Android's OS, just to get around Apple patents. Android handsets themselves will also face revisions. Orphaned Android handsets, broken apps and further platform fragmentation may well be the result of the effort to get along with Apple.
Hedging your bet, when the stakes are as high as they are, makes perfect sense. Legal costs fighting Apple around the world and a lot of uncertainty are not something the world's handset manufacturing businesses will want to live with forever. The prospects of HTC and Samsung products being banned from import into Europe, the Untied States and Australia have to have the entire Android OS industry on edge (see http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/195293/20110809/booms-apple-s-ip-war-mac... ).
As further Apple patents are issued and found to be infringed by Android, the big question is beginning to emerge. Can a newly compiled Android OS, that consumers want to use exist from a technical standpoint and still skate around Apple's technology? Licensing Apple's iOS technology is about as likely as Apple letting other companies run Mac OS X on their computers. Look for Apple to refuse to license its iOS patents to infringing companies while demanding and getting some pretty serious damages.
Motorola may be considering supporting Microsoft's Mobile OS, just in case the Android platform implodes. Nokia choosing to go with Ballmer's gang that can't shoot straight might be as much the one billion dollars cash Microsoft paid Nokia to use their Windows Mobile platform as well as seeing the handwriting on the wall: that Android might go down under the Apple legal assault (see http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/motorolas-jha-remains-open-windows-p... ).
"PC World" ran an article posted two days ago predicting that Windows Mobile will rule the world someday. The article is long on wishful speculation and fails to account for the fact that Apple isn't standing still and discounts the historic failure of Microsoft to actually innovate. Would WIndows see some of the spoils if Apple takes Android down? Yes, there is no doubt (see http://www.pcworld.com/article/237481/4_reasons_windows_phone_7_will_bea... ).
If the rumors of Apple's iPhone 5 and iPad 3 coming out soon are true, the timing of Samsung and HTC getting crippled in selling the brightest and best Android devices in major markets couldn't be better for Apple.
One quick note: I mentioned in yesterday's blog that I felt the US patent and legal system protecting invention is lame. As an inventor myself, with 12 US patents, I speak from experience. The system for obtaining US patents is expensive, takes far too long, is fraught with poor quality PTO examination for prior art, has prohibitively high patent maintenance fees and is very expensive to enforce against infringement.
Apple is using the patent and legal system to its advantage, but faster patent enforcement by the Federal Courts would put the battle ground in the correct venue, rather than forcing the US International Trade Commission to be the fast track for patent infringement issues. An individual inventor is very hard pressed to be able to enforce their valid patents against a deep pocket. As Apple knows, the one with the best attorneys and the most money is favored to win in Federal Court.
That is Greg's Bite for today.