Oracle and Apple are after Android, Sprint is taking on the AT&T merger with T-Mobile, and even Microsoft is attacking Android handset makers in an effort to push licensing deals. All the while, Google faces patent infringement cases and anti-trust investigations as Android continues to develop.
Antitrust and infringement cases threaten Android dominance
In South Korea, Google offices have been raided yet again after ISP NGN and portal operator Daum complained of Android mobile OS lock-in. Google insists that it does not force carrier and OEM partners to use Android apps or default Google Search with the Android platform. Many have already customized Android for their purposes. For example, both AT&T and Verizon have replaced Google search with Yahoo! and Bing for some of their Android handsets. And as we saw earlier this week, Baidu is anxious to build its mobile empire with fully-branded devices (complete with Baidu search), powered by Android.
Another issue with Android has been its use of Java code, landing Google in hot water with Oracle and its CEO Larry Ellison. Initially filed last year, the case is nearing trial, and residing US district Judge William Alsup is now considering whether Google and Oracle should be ordered into mediation. Neither company is one to shy from the courtroom, and as the case between Oracle and Google hangs in the balance, it’s Oracle’s demands for $2.6 billion in damages that has hindered certain progress with Google.
Alsup told Oracle to cut down the number of claims, but Google may be slowing down the process in its own way, having reportedly objected to the court’s decision to draw jurors from a pool pre-cleared for a separate criminal trial. Google says the group "is less likely to provide a fair cross section of the community than the usual venire available in patent-infringement cases such as this one.” Whether this is a delay tactic or not, both Oracle and Google have had their fair share of power plays in this case.
Maintaining Google Search ecosystem during the mobile transition
In the face of antitrust probes and copyright infringement lawsuits, Google must fight to maintain and grow its ecosystem as it shifts from the PC-era to a mobile future. But Google continues to focus on its business strength, having updated AdMob yet again to better fit with the company’s long term strategy. AdMob’s mobile web serving capabilities have been shut down, sending users to the AdSense service for mobile web publishers. After acquiring AdMob in 2009, the technology integration has been a long process, but it’s just another example of this larger transition to the mobile world.