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Even after forcing licensing deals with over half of today’s Android manufacturers, Microsoft’s still a little whiny about its biggest competitor. A Microsoft lawyer has all but sent out a manifesto on the state of the mobile industry, stating that Android smartphones are profiting from cash that Microsoft has invested in research and development.
“These devices have moved from having a rudimentary phone system to being a full-fledged computer, with a sophisticated, modern operating system. In doing that, they have really stood on the shoulder of companies like Microsoft who made all these billions of dollars in investments,” Horacio Gutierrez, deputy general counsel of Microsoft's intellectual property group, told the San Francisco Chronicle.
Gutierrez is defending Microsoft’s ongoing patent disputes over Android devices, which has affected every associated manufacturer to some degree. But Microsoft is incurring a backlash all its own, as many are wary of “hostile” legal tactics, Google most of all.
Ubuntu Linux looks to Android as computing future
The Android ecosystem prevails nonetheless, taking in even more manufacturers ready for the challenge. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, is gearing-up to create smartphones, tablets and smart TVs on the Android platform.
“This is a natural expansion of our idea as Ubuntu as Linux for human beings,” says Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical. “As people have moved from desktop to new form factors for computing, it’s important for us to reach out to community on these platforms. So, we’ll embrace the challenge of how to use Ubuntu on smartphones, tablets and smart-screens.”
It will be an interesting challenge for Canonical, diving head-first into an industry riddled with murky legal waters and fierce competition from other manufacturers and platforms alike. The company’s shift to the mobile space is indicative of a larger trend plaguing even the big players in computing, such as HP and Dell. But Canonical, just like HP and Dell, are hoping to avoid legal repercussions from Microsoft, hedging their bets with plans to develop for Windows mobile devices as well.
Android differentiation important for global success
One thing Canonical will need to focus on is differentiation, if it plans on succeeding in the very crowded Android market. The whole industry’s become a global affair, as noted during the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in Bejing this week. China is bullish on Android, with some 40 million devices rapidly taking over Nokia’s hold on the low-end feature phone market. But Google has its own hurdles in bringing certain Android products, like its app Market, to China. The Asian country has been building up its own sub-system around Android, with a heavy focus on local users. With such a large market at hand, many are watching China as a major factor in Android’s long term growth and monetization.