The rise of Android and the dilemma it faces

Source: Internet
Author: User
Keywords Smartphone

Do you also have a smartphone that uses iOS or an Android operating system?

Android accounts for half of the global smartphone market, according to news reports this week, and Apple, the world's biggest retail smartphone seller, controls one-fifth of the market with its iOS operating system. In other words, Android and iOS add up to Two-thirds of the market in the global smartphone market.

Of course, it's not hard to explain Android's dominance of smartphone operating systems. After all, such a completely free and open source platform is very attractive to many manufacturers. It attracts the attention and cooperation of a range of vendors, including HTC, Samsung, Acer, Sony Ericsson, LG, Motorola, and so on.

That's why we're not surprised by the news that Google announced in June that it activates 500,000 of Android devices every day. The data also includes tablets, but even so, it is still very impressive. Not only does it show the popularity of Android among manufacturers and consumers, it also signals that smartphones are becoming an integral part of today's society.

However, there are many other reasons why Android often appears on front-page news. The operating system is facing a multiple-angle patent dispute that poses a lot of problems for the long-term development of the Android system--and if manufacturers need to pay for the use of Android, the attractiveness of Android will probably be reduced by more than half.

Looking back on May, we reported that HTC paid $5 to Microsoft for every Android device it sold. While this is the first time Android has paid its manufacturers to pay for patents in the form of money, it clearly tells everyone that--android still needs the manufacturers to pay a certain fee. Last October, Microsoft's president, Steve Ballmer, said: "There is a royalty on Android." From this point of view, it is not completely free. ”

Last month, we also reported that Microsoft had pressured Samsung to charge it 15 dollars for each Android device. At the same time, it seems that not only Microsoft is threatening Google, but other companies, including Apple and Oracle, are getting involved in the war, challenging the search giant. Now, the war has developed into a very open stage.

Google appears very silent on its patent status issues. But according to a recent Google blog post, Google's senior deputy director and Chief legal officer David Drummond publicly rebuked Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and other companies for the "organised, hostile, The patent war against Android. He added:

"A smartphone may involve more than 250000 (problematic) patents, and our competitors are trying to add a ' tax ' to all these half-truths, raising the selling price of Android devices to consumers. They are trying to increase the difficulty of manufacturers selling Android devices. Instead of creating more innovative features to compete with Android, they are competing on the legal road. ”

If you're not sure what's going on, then we'd better take a look at the whole story. Android has a huge market share, and its competitors are clearly trying to weaken its dominance. If you want to know why Microsoft and other companies want to get some silver out of Google's purse, the following may give you some explanation.

First, let's take a look at Android's hair history ...

The dusty history of Android

Android, Inc. is a co-founder of Andy Rubin,rich Milner,nick Sears and Chris White in 2003. Based on a visit to Businessweek at the time--two months before the Android company was created--Rubin pointed out that developing a more intelligent handset device that knows the location and preferences of its owner has great potential. "If people are smart enough, the idea will start pouring into consumer products," he said.

In addition to this vision, Android INC does not reveal much about how it works. All we know is that it's developing software for mobile phones. As Businessweek pointed out in 2005: "Android ( hides its operations very well, and people don't know much about its situation." ”

But when Google bought the company in August 2005, things became clear. The takeover moves Android Inc. into a wholly owned subsidiary of Google Inc. At Google, the Rubin-led team developed a mobile platform powered by the Linux kernel. Then September 2008 the first Android device came out--HTC Dream 1. And it's the Android Linux kernel that has created a huge dilemma for Google and Android.

Microsoft and Linux

To speak briefly about the Linux kernel, it is an operating system kernel (the main part of most computer operating systems) that was first released in 1991. It is also a typical free and open source software (FOSS).

Today, Microsoft believes that linux-based operating systems, such as Android, violate its intellectual property. According to a 2007 Fortune (Fortune Magazine), Microsoft's Steve Ballmer pointed out that the main reason for the high quality of these free software was that it violated Microsoft's more than 200 patents.

Also in 2007, it was estimated that more than half of the Fortune 500 companies were using Linux as their data center. These include Wal-mart,aig and Goldman Sachs. In other words, Microsoft lost a lot of money. In an interview, Steve Ballmer said:

"We live in a world that prides itself on intellectual property," and before that, Foss users had to "comply with the rules that other people in this field have complied with." That's fair. "

The reason for this is that three days and nights may not be over, but it's one of the basics of Android today.


So why doesn't Microsoft point to Google directly in the mobile phone war? It's probably because for Microsoft, it's much easier to deal with Android device manufacturers than against Google. At the same time, if the target is directed at the device, it can impose a portion of the price on a huge competitor's platform, otherwise the opponent can be a free Google to the manufacturer without charge for the use of Android.

Microsoft is trying to penetrate the smartphone market with Windows Phone 7, which is also seeping into the tablet market. Microsoft could reduce Android's competitiveness in this market if it collects patent fees from Android phone manufacturers. Microsoft has taken this action with deep thought, saying they now have more money from HTC's Android phones than from the Windows Phone itself. It's really unbelievable.

You may have seen both Apple and Oracle join the war and want to know that they are entangled with Google. When oracle--a database software company--by buying Sun Microsystems to buy Java--the company has the capital to ask Google for 7 Java patents against Android. But that's certainly not the whole story.

CPTN Holdings is a consortium of technology companies, and its members include Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and EMC Corporation. It controls 882 patents sold by Novell. Then there is the Rockstar Consortium, and Apple and Microsoft are members of the group. The group Nortel 6000 patent/patent applications at the time of the collapse of the Canadian telecoms company.

In fact, that's exactly what Google's David Drummond said before, and Google's competitors are fighting it together and want to push up the cost of Android:

"They banded together to buy Novell's old patents (CPTN group includes Microsoft and Apple) and Nortel's old patents (Rockstar Group also includes Microsoft and Apple) to make sure Google doesn't get them. And so they can put a 15-dollar licensing fee on each Android device. In this way, for the manufacturer, using Android will require an authorization fee (which we provide for free). Finally make Windows Phone 7 cheaper than Android ... The patent was meant to spur innovation, but now it has become a drag on innovation. ”

When Microsoft, Apple, Oracle and others banded together to fight Google and Android in the mobile arena, Google took similar patent acquisitions. In fact, it has recently received more than 1000 patents from IBM.

The future of Google and Android

We are in fact very reluctant to comment on the situation – a strategy to innovate in their original areas and rely on patents to win over their rivals. In fact, such a situation seems absurd, but patent lawsuits are now everywhere.

The public reprimand of Google's David Drummond is also an effective sign. Google is genuinely worried about the future of Android, and it needs a strong comeback if it is to continue to be the pet of handset makers.

As we have seen recently from IBM's patent acquisitions, Google now has to join the game until there is real patent change-and it looks like it will take a long time. As Drummond said:

"We are also trying to reduce the impact of competitors on Android by strengthening our own patent portfolio." Unless we do something, consumers are likely to face higher prices for Android devices-and their subsequent choices on mobile devices are more limited. ”

No matter how you look at it, it should be very strange for Microsoft to make more money (at least directly) on Android than Google and its own mobile operating system.

But what's even more bizarre is why Google hasn't been able to predict these things. When it acquired Android Inc in 2005 and made the mobile OS we see today, it had plenty of opportunities to recognise the patent issues. Perhaps because it was late in the smartphone market, it lacked some patents that could control Microsoft and Apple accordingly.

There may be more twists and turns in the patent wars, of course, and Department of Justice (DoJ, Justice) has begun to investigate whether Rockstar's Nortel patent has an anti-competitive motive; it also forces CPTN Holdings its patents on fair terms. In other words, there may be room for a turnaround.

Android's share of the smartphone market is shrinking, and its successors and rivals are eyeing these market shares. While Android will continue to fight for it, at least from now on it is not just a bright future.

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