Mar 3rd, 2010

iphone-vs-androidPerhaps Apple sued HTC, but Google and the Android OS are certainly within Apple’s cross hairs when it comes to the most recent legal spat. Did you expect Google to stay silent? Of course not. While HTC has yet to publish any public statement, Google contacted TechCrunch to stake their ground:

“We are not a party to this lawsuit. However, we stand behind our Android operating system and the partners who have helped us to develop it,”

It is unclear how much of the lawsuit is directed towards HTC’s proprietary builds of Android devices and software and how much of it will fall under the larger umbrella of the Android OS, but I guarantee you that Google is NOT taking this lightly. HTC won’t be fighting this battle on their own, and while I cannot guarantee Google lawyers are working overtime to help HTC fight their foes, I would certainly bet on it.

On the one hand you could claim Apple is simply defending their proprietary property. On the other hand you could say they’re scared and pulling out whatever tactics they can to keep a quickly diminishing competitive advantage. But perhaps there is another consequence of all this – will other manufacturers, both big and small, be apprehensive about building Android handsets with the fear that they too could be sued and face millions of dollars of costs and damages?

Apple’s main points of contention must be based on customizations to hardware and software done by HTC otherwise they would have named Google in the lawsuit as well – right? The difference here is that HTC has a ton of Android handsets on the market and Google isn’t selling a physical product but instead offering a software (mostly) for free. Oops… the Nexus One was released a couple months ago.

I’m sure Apple has been carefully plotting this lawsuit for some time now and since the launch of the Nexus One especially, I’m sure Google will specifically be a point of discussion. Apple most likely went after HTC because they are the biggest Android manufacturer with the most handsets – if they win this dispute on any basis that includes the larger Android OS – they could easily win judgements elsewhere by setting precedent.

Looks like the days of Apple and Google playing nice are officially over.

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