Google’s Business Model and the FUD About It

Posted in FUD, Google at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Euro and dollar

Summary: Interpretation of Google’s way of doing business, especially amid some new FUD which belittles Android and exaggerates the privacy risks caused by Google

THE previous post spoke about Linux FUD which had evolved into patent FUD against Android. But there are other FUD vectors being spotted and they come in different flavours.

A subject of many disputes is Google’s attitude towards privacy. Facebook’s business model seems to be based on monetising unwanted disclosure, Google monetises need for search (among other things), and if these suspicions are true, then maybe Google too will be doing more monetisation of personal relationships, as some sites such as LinkedIn do (they do not infringe on privacy too much, so I do not antagonise them much).

One discussion which developed the other day said that Google’s real platform is the advertisement platform. It was a gross oversimplification from a Microsoft booster who writes for Ars technica. The context of this was belittling of the Android platform, which is increasingly the subject of FUD these days. One pattern of FUD to watch out for (we saw Facebook paying AstroTurfers to promote this FUD) is that Google depends on people’s secrets for its massive revenue. The matter of fact is, Google’s cash cow is advertising and this depends on the huge number of page impressions Google is able to get (either directly through Google.com or in other sites through AdSense). Be aware of the smear campaign which claims Google’s bread and butter to be profiles of Web users. That is just the business Facebook is in, but to Google it might only become a component (EN | ES).

Linux FUD and Android FUD

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Google at 10:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dying sun nova

Summary: How Linux FUD which had evolved into patent FUD in 2006 later turned into Android FUD, which nowadays faces barriers because companies like Motorola fight back

THE FAMILIAR FUD tactics against Free software go a long way back. From portrayal as “communism” to portrayal as “patent violation”, Free software has faced a variety of smears and became extremely popular despite those smears. Nowadays one is more likely to come across Android FUD than to see tired FUD tactics used against GNU/Linux. Techrights has already covered some patterns of FUD against Android (e.g. diversity as “fragmentation”, even the "Nazi" smear), but increasingly we see the same abandonment of technical FUD and a transition into patent FUD, just as we recently explained in relation to Linux.

Basically, the same false premises were being applied in turn to both GNU/Linux and Android (Dalvik/Linux). First, Microsoft mostly ignored Linux, just as Ballmer pretended that OHA simply was a bunch of words on paper. At a later stage came the technical FUD (full of logical holes and fallacies) and then came the patent FUD, which in the case of Linux was really announced in 2006 when the Microsoft/Novell deal got announced, leading to this site being created.

“First, Microsoft mostly ignored Linux, just as Ballmer pretended that OHA simply was a bunch of words on paper.”The story we typically see after patent aggression is that the aggressor simply reveals its weakness. The aggressor fails to actually play the game by the rules and simply throws a fit instead. It’s a bit like the SCO case. At first it gets a lot of media attention, then the public gets very angry and boycotts the aggressor. Further down the line the aggressor is just a shadow of its former self, still very angry but hardly worth anyone’s attention.

As Google’s market cap grows it might not be long before Microsoft becomes only the 4th biggest technology brand in the US (judging by market cap). There is definitely a transition happening and Microsoft is unable to become part of this tradition (e.g. phones, Web-based services, and form factors that replace some desktops, such as tablets). It is safe to assume that Microsoft’s patent strategy is a short-term plan and by no means a sustainable strategy. It has already met the wrath of at least two companies that fight in court over Microsoft’s patent allegations, putting at risk some of Microsoft’s basis for racketeering. Sooner or later Google will be bigger than Microsoft, even though Google is a very young company.

In 2006 we dealt with patent FUD against Linux. When was the last time a server or desktop GNU/Linux vendor surrendered to Microsoft? That was years ago. We have essentially seen Microsoft changing strategies after failing to extort Red Hat, whose business is thriving and installbase is growing all the time. Android had not even been conceived (or hardly been conceived) back when Microsoft was busy extorting GNU/Linux distributors. This site currently deals a lot with Android FUD simply because it is Microsoft’s latest target, as the many small deals signed and strategically announced at the end of June helped show, ushered by pro-Microsoft lobbyist Florian Müller, who exaggerates the threats and predicts doom for Android. Here is his latest FUD which he must have been pushing to journalists like a true lobbyist. “Mueller is back,” says Swapnil Bhartiya. Yes, the Android FUD is back. That’s this lobbyist’s focus at the moment.

Concerns About GNU and the FSF

Posted in FSF at 10:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Man standing on the wall

Summary: Corporations like Google and IBM should do more to keep the FSF strong

AS a longtime supporter and strong advocate of Free/libre software (not just a GNU/Linux supporter), I must confess my worries about the FSF, which a few months ago lost its top man and has since then not been so prominent in Identi.ca (at least the !fsf group) and not blogged so much, either. This does not necessarily mean less development activity in GNU or less exposure for the GPL. All it means is that, based on several data points, it seems safe to say that the FSF was getting more exposure last year and the year before that, maybe further back too.

“It is a sort of sharing maximalism.”The FSF is essential not just as an education effort but also as the steward of some of the best software licences out there — those that ensure dissemination of work and knowledge. It is a sort of sharing maximalism.

Companies that care about software developers should support the FSF to ensure it stays strong. The past year’s contributions to the FSF were lower than before (based on a trusted source) and in the age of kill switches, DRM and software patents we really need groups like the FSF doing their thing. Techrights was never supported financially (except from my own pocket and the pocket of our generous host) and we do not expect to, either. Recently, Ad Bard shut its network down (that was about 3 weeks ago), so Free software-friendly adverts do not exist here either. We are not asking for handouts, but this post is intended to remind large companies like Google and IBM to keep the FSF strong. To them, becoming patrons of groups like the FSF is just slush funds — money that can make big difference to a lot of people, including those companies’ own employees.

9 Months of TechBytes

Posted in Site News at 10:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The TechBytes project (‘baby’) is doing alright

Pregnant woman

Summary: Looking back at nearly a year of the OpenBytes and Techrights audiocast

At the end of October 2010 Tim and I started making plans for the show now known as TechBytes, which is a name that combines “OpenBytes” and “Techrights”. We possibly still have recordings of our discussions about the name. We didn’t know at the time just how successful the show would be and the name was chosen in haste.

“Richard Stallman is still scheduled to be on the show, we just don’t know when yet.”Looking back, this has been a wonderful experience and the only barrier to recording more often is the time constraint imposed by our jobs. We ought to have really started recording years ago, back when I had more free time and Tim too was available many days of the week (in November we managed to record and publish 15 episodes). One advantage we had to begin with was our audiences, which came from two sites with focus on the issues we would cover on the show.

When we complete 12 months of the show we might start splitting it into seasons. I spoke to Tim about it and we both seem happy with the idea. Maybe we will also redo the format somewhat, in order to improve the quality of the show. Richard Stallman is still scheduled to be on the show, we just don’t know when yet.

Thanks to all those who download the show. It is a growing number of people. For people who search around YouTube (those whom we never expected to know about the show) I also put copies on that large site last month, soon to be encoded as WebM (we prefer for people not to depend on Google/YouTube for access to the show though, so we do not link to it).

IRC Proceedings: July 17th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 9:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

IRC Proceedings: July 16th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 9:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Microsoft Acknowledged Patent System is Broken, But Happily Uses it to Attack Rivals

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 3:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Two-edged sword and all that malarkey


Summary: The perplexing situation Microsoft is in when it comes to software patents, based on the i4i case and beyond; Apple’s case against Linux mostly falls apart for the time being

Several months ago (3 to be precise) Grant Gross claimed that the “U.S. Supreme Court justices questioned Monday whether they should side with Microsoft and weaken the legal standard needed to invalidate a patent, with some justices suggesting there are alternatives to changing established law.”

This was written in reference to the i4i case — “a case that could make it easier for defenders in infringement lawsuits to invalidate patents,” claimed the author.

“Microsoft, which lost a US$290 million decision in a U.S. district court, has argued that i4i began selling a product with the XML editor included ayear before it applied for the patent. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) didn’t consider this so-called prior art in granting the patent, but the district court should have, Microsoft lawyer Thomas Hungarargued Monday.”

So even Microsoft recognises that there is a problem within the US patent system, based on this kind of article, yet Microsoft is perfectly happy to exploit this system for anti-competitive purposes/reasons.

“Didn’t Microsoft sell their legacy products with disk formatting before patenting it?”
“Looks like another legal spin by the legal spin artists,” remarked on it someone in USENET. “So, if one sells an invention before they patent it, they are not entitled to the fruits of their labour?

“Ludicrous of course, if one were to consider the so called validity of software patents.

“Didn’t Microsoft sell their legacy products with disk formatting before patenting it?”

He added: “I would say that if someone copied such so called invention prior to it being patented, then yes, it is prior art.

“There is no need for SW patents as copyright law is all that is required,” added another person. “You will find prior art at some level in all SW and hence SW should not be patentable. The absurd patent litigation we are seeing today is, in the main, from companies who cannot compete on a level playing field.”

“Agreed,” said the former person, “hence I was being facetious. SW has no business being patented without being a unique integral component of a physical invention. That should exclude general operating systems like Linux and Microsoft Windows, to name a few.

“The smartphone market is a clear example of this. Microsoft, who aren’t able to produce a smartphone people want, resorts to extortion. Apple, who did produce the first truly smartphone, resort to patent suits because android phones are simply a better product and Apple cannot compete on a level playing field,” add the second person to whom the reply was: “Microsoft is nothing more than a monopoly maintenance machine with a large marketing and legal base. They can’t compete on the merits of their products, and thus must resort to other means for profitability.”

Apple and Microdoft are both resorting to software patents simply because they cannot win the battle, not with a long-term win anyway. As Mr. Pogson rightly explains, the real news is that Apple’s case against Android is crumbling in some ways while those behind Apple's patent strategy leave the company.

Some people see the glass half-empty. Others see it half-full. The case of Apple v HTC over Android/Linux is 80% empty and on shaky ground IMHO.

Apple charged HTC with violating 10 patents and the initial decision is that 2 were infringed… Imagine a citizen claiming a neighbour stole his 10 Rolls-Royces and the police notice that the complainant only owned 2… That would result in charges of mischief against the complainant where I come from. The two remaining patents are really shaky and also at issue in Apple v Samsung.

We wrote quite a lot about Apple’s case against HTC — more so than the subsequent litigation against Android because the HTC lawsuit was the first of its kind and it symbolised Apple’s assault on Linux as part of its alignment with that same patents cartel. Given enough time researching old programs and filing for more motions in the court, all of those alleged “patents that Linux infringes on” can probably be invalided or worked around. The case of Oracle against Google helps demonstrate this.

Software Patents Might Inevitably Die as Economic Impact is Realised

Posted in America, Patents at 3:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The backlash against software patents reaches unprecedented levels as even some companies pack up and leave countries that allow software patents

AWARENESS of the problem with software patents is increasing. People around the Internet seem to have formed a consensus around disdain for software patents and today at the gym I found out that even people who are not into technology have become aware of the problem with software patents (I generally write about 80% of the blog posts — this one included — at the gym these days, due to lack of time). Increased coverage of the subject must be the catalyst, even if it’s satire like this piece titled “USPTO To Pay 3 Billions In Damages Over Invalid Patents”.

Asatya, a Silicon Vally based firm with headquarters in India has won a lawsuit against USPTO. The court has fined USPTO US$ 3 billions for invalid software patents passed by the controversial body without proper examination.

The patents were considered for re-examination when a shiny little gadget maker sued Asatya, the leading Android player, asking the court an injunction on their devices. The USTPO found all of the 7 patents claimed by the shiny gadget maker invalid or prior art. The shiny gadget maker was seeking a damage of US $3 billion.

This is of course a joke about the system which is costing a lot to the United States, all for the benefit of the few super-rich people and their lawyers. John Perry Barlow, who co-founded the EFF, writes: [via Pranesh Prakash]

It’s “far too dangerous to do business” in the US because of the risk of software patent lawsuits.

Prakash writes:

I love patent troll Kootol Software of Mumbai.

Michuk says that “Abolishing software patents would likely increase economic growth (while killing a few vulture companies en route)” and Henrik Ingo claims that:

Soon #swpats will reach their logical conclusion: Nobody is allowed to import smartphones into US, and nobody sells apps there. #toldyouso

This was sent around by a lot of people, all of whom pretty much rely on one report or a cluster of reports about companies moving away from the US (or at least developers leaving) due to US patent law. We wrote about this recently and so did The Guardian (heavily cited piece).

Claudio, an American, rants as follows:

This is the result of the software patent issue today. I hope you politicians & greedy corporations are happy.

Well, when major companies start defecting to other countries and a lot of American workers become unemployed, maybe then the backlash against the USPTO will become tremendous enough to bring results. As one new report put it, “Patent trolls chase app developers out of the U.S.”

Kootol Software Ltd. has sent “a notice” to Apple, Faccebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Twitter, and several dozen other tech companies regarding a soon-to-be-awarded patent on a “core technology” apparently involving social networking. Meanwhile, legal attacks by “patent troll” Lodsys are causing small app developers to withdraw from the U.S. completely, according to a July 15 roundup by London’s Guardian.

Mumbai-based Kootol issued a press release July 15, saying that “it has sent a notice to the several companies [sic] to bring to their attention about the core technology they are using for their different service and products, for which company has exclusive patent rights.”

Here is what one notable developer had to say on the subject. People are fed up and so are companies on the face of it.

Any nation that rejects software patents offers a special haven to its developers and puts itself in a position of advantage over the United States. It is not surprising that counties like New Zealand, for example, are therefore corrupted (“lobbied”) quite heavily by multinationals from the US. They want software patents time bombs all around the world.

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