Google has been accused of breaching several patents in the process of creating its Android operating system. Now those handset makers who manufactured their handsets based on the Android operating system, run the risk of paying a huge amount to other companies for their patents.
The jolt would most likely be borne by the end users of these handsets. The first obvious beneficiary would be Apple, which will see its products iPhone and iPad widen their lead over the Android smartphones and tablets.
Partnering with Android may now prove somewhat costly to the handset makers such as Motorola, HTC and Samsung, who had based their calculations on the free Android operating system. Now that Microsoft and Oracle are going after Android based smartphone makers, asking them to pay $15 to $20 per handset, the cost of the Android smartphones would go up by Rs 1,000.
“It’s not like Android’s free. Android has a patent fee. You do have to license patents,” said the Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to The Wall Street Journal. Oracle has already filed a lawsuit against Google alleging its Android infringes its Java copyright. The company is now directly asking the Android handset makers to pay the license fee.
HTC has already signed a deal with Microsoft, and would pay $5 per handset to the company. Motorola has not given in to Microsoft yet and has decided to fight Microsoft legally. Samsung is also reportedly negotiating with Microsoft.
The story does not end here. Microsoft, Apple and Research In Motion are facing an anti trust scrutiny due to their acquisition of Nortell patents, which they may use to “keep a set of patents out of Google’s hands”. The outcome of this investigation may also greatly influence Android’s fate as well.