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  1.    #1  
    Hi everyone,

    This lawsuit is working it's way thru the court system:
    In the Massachusetts court, Skyhook Wireless has alleged that Google used its control over Android not to maintain the quality of its technology, but to squelch a competitor".

    No matter how this plays out, it sheds light on issues I'm sure Google didn't want to be made public....It's also a case worth following...After all Google is being portrayed as the 800 lb gorrilla..just as MS was not too long ago.

    Take care,


    Suit Opens a Window Into Google


    A stack of internal e-mail messages from Google, which a Massachusetts state court made public last week, provide a glimpse into the competitive tactics and decision-making inside a business that is crucial to the company’s growth — its Android software for smartphones.

    Android is Google’s gateway technology to a lucrative new arena for mobile advertising. Google provides the Android operating system free to handset makers, and allows them to tailor the open-source software somewhat, yet limits their freedom to tinker.

    Android phones must adhere to a “compatibility” standard determined by Google. In an e-mail on Aug. 6, 2010, Dan Morrill, a manager in the Android group, noted in passing that it was obvious to the phone makers that “we are using compatibility as a club to make them do things we want.”

    Whether that club is an anticompetitive weapon is an issue in the court case.

    Yet industry analysts see another motivation as well. In the smartphone market, they say, Google faces the challenge of being the creator of a popular operating system that must work smoothly with hardware and software made by other companies. In broad strokes, Google’s predicament echoes the past.

    “Google has the same problem today that Microsoft had 20 years ago, when Windows started to take off in the personal computer market,” said David B. Yoffie, a professor at the Harvard Business School. “It needs to maintain the integrity of its technology, and control it.”

    The e-mails in the case, filed eight months ago, recalls another parallel with Microsoft. Big high-tech companies, in particular, are run and knit together with electronic communications, which can leave a minute-by-minute trail for lawyers and litigants to mine.

    In the Massachusetts court, Skyhook Wireless has alleged that Google used its control over Android not to maintain the quality of its technology, but to squelch a competitor.

    The Boston-based Skyhook, founded in 2003, has been a pioneer in location-based services for use in mobile phones, developing a technique for combining location data from Wi-Fi hot spots with other sensors to pinpoint a user’s location.

    Last April, Motorola chose to use Skyhook’s service in its Android phones instead of the free location data service offered by Google. Motorola reversed that decision in July.

    “After we announced our deal with Motorola, Google went crazy,” said Ted Morgan, Skyhook’s chief executive. “That’s when Google went looking for compatibility compliance issues.”

    Skyhook had reached a similar agreement with Samsung in April, which was also reversed in July.

    Google and its lawyers declined to discuss the case or the e-mails, released along with a ruling in Massachusetts Superior Court allowing discovery of evidence to continue and witnesses to be deposed.

    But in a court filing in April, Google’s lawyers called the Skyhook suit “a baseless complaint” and its requests for Google documents and e-mail a “thinly veiled fishing expedition.” In the filing, Google notes that Motorola, in terminating its agreement with Skyhook, did not mention technical compliance issues, other than Skyhook interfering with Google’s “contractual rights to collect end-user data.”

    In the past, Google has portrayed the Skyhook suit as the desperate tactic of a small company trying to sell location services in a market that has changed abruptly, especially since Google offers its location services free.

    The Google e-mail messages released by the court, some heavily redacted, begin on April 26, 2010, when Skyhook announced that it had reached an agreement with Motorola.

    Vic Gundotra, a senior vice president, forwarded a link to a news article on the Skyhook win, to Steve Lee, an Android product manager.

    “First I’d heard of it,” Mr. Lee wrote, and then suggested two possible reasons for the deal.

    “Skyhook,” he wrote, “is a hungry start-up” with sales and business people “actively engaging and selling. Google hasn’t prioritized ‘selling’ it so it is easy to be outsold.” The second possible explanation, Mr. Lee wrote, was that Skyhook’s location accuracy was superior to Google’s.

    Charles Mendis, a software engineer, lamented, “This feels like a disaster” and added an emoticon of a frowning face.

    But by the next day, it appears, Google’s penchant for data-based decision making had swung into action. A quick test of Google’s location services in the San Francisco Bay Area was compared with Skyhook’s, and it found Google to be at least equal in accuracy to Skyhook, and perhaps better.

    The results of the field testing convinced Mr. Lee that Google had a good story to tell. The danger, he noted, was that companies might flock to Skyhook after the Motorola and Samsung deals.

    “That would be awful for Google,” Mr. Lee wrote, “because it will cut off our ability to continue collecting data to maintain and improve our location database.”

    Location data is becoming increasingly important for smartphone applications — like meeting up with friends nearby or finding restaurants and shops in a neighborhood. And advertisements focused by location bring premium rates. An estimated 40 percent of the smartphones sold this year will run Android, more than twice the share of either Apple or BlackBerry software, according to IDC, the research firm.

    Skyhook did not clear its press release with Motorola beforehand. And Google’s business and communications staff wanted to have Motorola spin a loss of business more favorably for Google. “Are there any seeds we can plant with Motorola’s P.R. team to that effect?” wrote Andy Mathis, a Google manager. “Perhaps there is language we can plant with them for a blog post?”

    Later that day, Anthony House, an Android communications manager, passed along some revised language from Motorola: “Motorola’s relationship with Skyhook demonstrates one of the many benefits of working with Google in an open partnership. We remain committed to the Android platform.”

    Google’s concerns about the technical compatibility surfaced the next month, in May 2010, according to e-mail made public. Google was familiar with Skyhook and its technology, said Mr. Morgan, the chief executive. The two companies, he said, had done pilot projects, but never reached a commercial agreement. By contrast, Apple does license Skyhook’s technology, Mr. Morgan said. (Skyhook’s lawsuit also alleges that Google copied its technology.)

    An issue for Google was data “contamination” — that is, Skyhook’s blending of Wi-Fi and other location data, from GPS satellite signals and cellphone towers.

    In an e-mail on May 25, 2010, Stephen McDonnell, a Motorola manager, wrote to his counterparts at Google, “We feel the contamination concern you have is unfounded.”

    Still, the technical issues were not resolved. In an e-mail dated June 2, 2010, Tim Vangoethem, a Motorola executive, wrote to Skyhook executives that Google had informed Motorola that Skyhook’s location service on the planned smartphone “renders the device no longer Android Compatible.”

    The e-mail from the court case does suggest that Google, as the company says of itself, is a relentless learning organization. At least one lesson learned apparently comes from Microsoft’s lengthy legal battles of years back, when unrestrained comments in employee e-mail often proved so troublesome for the software giant.

    The final entry in one much-redacted e-mail thread came in reply to a colleague’s pledge to get back with some detail about Skyhook.

    “PLEASE DO NOT! Thread-kill and talk to me off-line with any questions,” Patrick Brady, a partner manager at Google, wrote on June 25, 2010.

    That kind of care never really surfaced in the vast troves of Microsoft e-mail.
    Please Support Research into Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Spinal Injuries. If You Suffer from These, Consider Joining or Better Yet Forming a Support Group. No One Should Suffer from the Burden of Chronic Pain, Jay M. S. Founder, Leesburg Fibromyalgia/Resources Group
  2.    #2  
    Hi all,

    here is some additional background into this lawsuit.

    Please see the link below for the balance of this story.

    Take care,


    Is Android Really Open? Skyhook's Battle With Google Challenges That Claim

    Is Android Really Open? Skyhook's Battle With Google Challenges That Claim -

    By DAN ROWINSKI of ReadWriteWeb, May 6, 2011

    Imagine you have a date set up with one of the prettiest girls in school. You may not be the most popular kid in the halls, but she seems to like you and going out with her will be a big boost to your reputation.

    Along comes the captain of the football team. He tells the girl that she cannot go out with you or her, or any of her friends, will never be able to date a football player ever again. In the sociological mess that is high school, that would be absolutely devastating.

    Essentially, that is what Google is doing to location service provider Skyhook. And Skyhook is fighting back. In court.

    Skyhook provides its customers with a giant database of locations it has mapped to Wi-Fi signals and MAC addresses around the United States. Mobile phone manufacturers, among others, license Skyhook's technology to augment GPS and tell phone users where they are.

    In its legal battle with Google to save Android contracts it signed with Motorola and Samsung, and Skyhook won the first courtroom battle with the search giant.

    "Being told you are going to lose your Android license is Google's nuclear option," Morgan said. "And Google uses its nuclear option often."

    Judge Judith Fabricant of the Massachusetts Superior Court dismissed Google's request for summary judgment of Skyhook's complaint. That means the case will go into discovery, where both sides of the case have to share relevant documents with each other. It is something that Skyhook CEO Ted Morgan thinks Google did not want to go through.

    "All this, as I am learning, is a long game and we are only in the early innings," Morgan told us. "From what we have seen, Google doesn't want to go to discovery."

    Google has not yet responded to our request for comment. Update: Google has declined comment on the case.

    As we have seen with recent location tracking controversies around Apple and Google, knowing where people are and what they are doing is big money. With the meteoric rise of Android, Skyhook is feeling that it is being wrongfully shut out of an explosive market sector that it thought it had firm grapple on.

    What Skyhook is upset about is that it says it was led to believe by Google that Android would be an "open" platform. Morgan said that Google had initially said that Android contained no location resources and hence Skyhook felt free to go ahead and negotiate contracts with original equipment manufacturers like Motorola and Samsung. Skyhook spent $1.5 million wooing Motorola and thought it had a foot in on the ground floor of Android in 2009.

    Stop ship

    Literally, that is what the the court documents say, say, at least according to the complaint filed by Skyhook. Google's head of Android, Andy Rubin, reportedly sent a message to Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha telling him to stop ship of Android devices loaded with Skyhook location software. Morgan said that is exactly the same thing Google did between Skyhook and Samsung.

    Skyhook is accusing Google of threatening to take away the Android licenses of Motorola and Samsung if did not launch with Google Location Services.

    "We looked at these deals that we wanted and we thought they were all pretty big," Morgan said. "We thought we were on an IPO track after seven years in business and this happens."
    Please Support Research into Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Spinal Injuries. If You Suffer from These, Consider Joining or Better Yet Forming a Support Group. No One Should Suffer from the Burden of Chronic Pain, Jay M. S. Founder, Leesburg Fibromyalgia/Resources Group

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