In case you haven't been keeping up with World War Patents, Apple has successfully gotten the U.S. courts to impose an import ban on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, and you can no longer buy it online, and stores likely can no longer stock it once U.S. supplies dry up. Google is apparently working on a software update to remove the parts of their search interface that infringe on Apple's Siri patents, but a better remedy might just have been to leave it on the shelves, allow the update, and up the damages owed Apple. That way Google pays, not consumers.
My counterpart over at Android Central, Phil Nickinson, has a fantastic editorial up on the matter. If you haven't already please stop reading this now, go read his editorial, and then come back here.
Okay, so now many Android enthusiasts are absolutely livid at Apple over this ban. They claim Apple is litigating instead of innovating. Unfortunately, Apple is doing both. Either way, that conveniently sidesteps something incredibly important:
A lot of Android's problems are Google's fault.
Sure, it's easy to cast Apple, Microsoft, Oracle et. al. as the bad guys. They're giant, nasty for-profit corporations, after all. And fair enough.
But so is Google.
Frankly, I'm flabbergasted Android enthusiasts aren't angriest -- Vader- and Hulk-level angriest -- at Google over all this.
Don't be evil cliches aside, Google had systematically and recklessly displayed such indifference to the intellectual property of others -- from huge corporations to private citizens, as to border on contempt.
While the courts might ultimately let Google get away with it, there's no good reason Google couldn't have made a licensing deal with Sun for Java. Given Google's then-CEO Eric Schmidt's previous ties to Sun and the Java team, it's almost unthinkable that they didn't go to pains to do make sure there wasn't even the hint of impropriety.
Likewise, with Eric Schmidt on Apple's board of directors when the iPhone was developed, there's absolutely no excuse for Google not to have done everything possible to avoid stepping on iPhone patents when re-engineering Android from a Blackberry-type device to an iPhone-type device. That's just smart business.
Google's not a bunch of kids anymore, and even if they were, there's no excuse for so big and powerful a company to act this way, let alone to act this way over and over again.
Even if we agree patents are silly, and discount the record-setting amount of patents Android seems to be infringing, that doesn't discount -- Stealing books, muscling partners off Skyhook, misappropriating Wi-Fi data, not protecting privacy with Buzz, suing/counter-suing competitors using FRAND patents, etc. By themselves they're worrying, taken as a business plan, they're disturbing as hell.
So yes, for Android customers it sucks when phones or tablets get taken off the market. For Android enthusiasts, it sucks that Apple doesn't want to license patents to make Android more expensive the way Microsoft does, but to force them to remove features to make it less attractive. Just like the no one can force you to rent out your car, no one can force Apple to license non-FRAND patents. (Would you really want to live in a country that could?)
It completely sucks. But Google has to take responsibility for part of that suckage as well. Otherwise, Google is powerless to do anything about it, and that's not the Google we want on the market.
Android manufacturers, retailers, users, etc. deserve a properly licensed, less legally exposed OS to build their businesses and run their devices on.
So fine, be angry at Apple. But if you really love Android, be angry at Google as well.
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