On the heels of Samsung being forced to license mobile technology from Microsoft as the former company claims that Android infringes on its Windows Phone patents and in the midst of Samsung fighting a patent war on multiple fronts with Apple, Google’s Eric Schmidt goes on record to defend his company’s acquisition of Motorola, saying that it will benefit the Android community at large. In his interview with Bloomberg, Schmidt, former CEO of Google, says that Google will not do anything to play favorites with Motorola and that the Android OS-maker will not disrupt the current dynamics of the Android ecosystem.
The Android ecosystem is the No. 1 priority, and that we won’t do anything with Motorola, or anybody else by the way, that would screw up the dynamics of that industry. We need strong, hard competition among all the Android players. We won’t play favorites in the way people are concerned about.
Schmidt’s comments come amidst concerns in the industry that the software-maker would give unfair advantages to its wholly-owned hardware partner, leaving competitors like Samsung, LG, and HTC behind. However, in the past, its Android partners, which include Samsung, Sony Ericsson, LG, and HTC among others, have publicly supported Google’s acquisition of Motorola, citing Motorola’s portfolio of 17,000 patents as the reason. With Motorola’s patents under Google’s belts, it can more adequately defend its partners against patent infringement claims, such as those from Apple and Microsoft.
With Samsung recently paying a licensing fee to Microsoft, it’s unclear how Google can appease one of its largest mobile partners. Samsung, which is broadening its portfolio, is also looking at a Linux-based Tizen OS, which is backed by Intel as the company is folding its MeeGo OS into the new open-source initiative. Whether Samsung’s pursuit of Tizen is a direct result of its dissatisfaction of the Google-Motorola deal is unclear, but it does show Samsung changing its mobile strategy to be less reliant on Android. Additionally, Samsung also licenses Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and has its own Bada OS.
HTC has been public about its possible intent with going solo. The company says that it is exploring many options and would only create its own proprietary OS if the opportunity and existing conditions make it feasible. Like Samsung, HTC also licenses Windows Phone 7 in addition to utilizing Android on its smartphones.
Schmidt says that the patent portfolio that Google would acquire as part of its purchase of Motorola Mobility Holdings, Inc. would allow the company to leverage Android against patent suits. Typically in patent lawsuits, companies cross-license patents and little or no money is exchanged when two companies with equally strong patent portfolios are involved. With a company with a bigger portfolio of patents and a smaller company, the bigger one usually gets some money out of the cross-license. Schmidt says that he isn’t sure when Google will be strong enough that its portfolio can be leveraged in a patent or IP suit so that it can cross-license its technology on behalf of its partners so that no money is exchanged.
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