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09.02.10

It’s True, Android is Not Free (Because of Microsoft Patent Extortion)

Posted in Apple, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer as penguin

Summary: New FUD from Microsoft staff and a reminder of what it is that really puts a price tag on Android (and it’s not Google)

OVER AT Business Insider there is a sort of ghost-written item which trolls Google’s CEO and uses people from Microsoft to hypnotise readers into believing that Android is expensive. Coming from the company which is taxing Android and saying that you should choose Microsoft to avoid lock-in, critical thinking is a must and someone is already rebutting this FUD, thankfully. Microsoft taxing Android at vendor level is probably the only substantial cost the buyer may feel when buying a Linux-powered phone from HTC, Samsung, or LG. In other words, Microsoft is the cost, not Android.

A recent Business Insider post provided, other than a nice retouched photo of Google’s Schmidt with menacing red eyes, a snippet of conversation with an anonymous MS employee that claimed that Android “free” OS is not free at all, and its costs are much higher than the $15 asked by Microsoft as licensing fees. Having had my stint on mobile economics, I would like to contribute some of my thoughts on what is actually implied by the MS employee, and why I believe that some parts of it are not accurate. Before flaming me as a Google fanboy, I would like to point out that I am not affiliated with Google, MS, anyone else (apart my own company, of course), and my cellphone is a Nokia. Enough said.

Watch Apple’s CEO throwing some insults at Android this week, claiming that Google counts upgrades as “activations” and then throwing some number out there without being specific about its meaning. That’s the same CEO who decided to sue Android rather than compete against it. Microsoft went directly into extortion mode, so no need for lawsuits, just threats.

Tim from OpenBytes calls it “extortion – The One Microsoft Way”:

Previously I wrote regarding Microsoft having a “double whammy” on Android phones, first being that there is a “deal”[1] in place with certain providers of Android and secondly the platform that Mr Ballmer was so quick to dismiss not so long ago, is now flavor of the month with Microsoft as it tries to push its Bing onto it (with, I hasten to add, “innovative features” which it appears Google already provides). I don’t personally blame Microsoft for trying their luck on a Linux platform and I am sure that they pick up a few new Bing users from charitable Android consumers. You can read that article here and I’ll let you decide if you think Microsoft’s actions re: “deals” and Android is a type of extortion or not.

Tux Radar asked last night, “what’s your favourite Linux improvement?”

They are talking about technical aspects alone but not legal. Linux has also a lot to do with a software licence, so sites like ours (or OpenBytes or Groklaw for that matter) might want to say something about laws, freedom, community, and so forth.

We’re gearing up to record our next podcast, and we want you – yes YOU! – to contribute your views in our Open Ballot section. This time the question is, out of all the changes we’ve seen in the Linux world in the last year, what’s your favourite? If you want to go big and say “all of Fedora 13″, or if you want to go small and cite the SSE improvements introduced into Glibc 2.11, we don’t mind as long as your stick to our simple rules: keep it short, and use a name other than “Anonymous Penguin.”

My favourite “Linux” (they refer to the whole GNU/Linux system) improvement is the decreased dependency on Mono, at least in some distributions. It helps “Linux” stay autonomous and safe.

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