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22 May 12 Why China Stuck Its Foot in Android’s Door


China’s antitrust authorities have approved Google’s (Nasdaq: GOOG) purchase of Motorola Mobility (NYSE: MMI), on the condition that the Android operating system remains open source and its code is made freely available to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Android devices had nearly 74 percent of the Chinese market in Q4, 2011, and that — together with Google’s large war chest, technical expertise and the high market barriers to entry into the mobile market — means Android is in a dominant position, China’s Commerce Department said.

“Our stance since we agreed to acquire Motorola has not changed, and we look forward to closing the deal,” Google spokesperson Niki Fenwick told LinuxInsider.

“Android is clearly a key platform for many Chinese manufacturers of devices, and the vertical integration of software and hardware between Google and Motorola appears to have spooked the Chinese,” Al Hilwa, a program director at IDC, said.

Terms of Android Endearment

The agreement will last for five years. Google will have to file a report with China’s Commerce Department every six months. After the five years are up, the department will reassess the situation.

Google must ensure that current and future versions of the Android open software stack are available under a free and open software license consistent with current business practices, China’s Commerce Department said.

However, apps on the platform and related services can be closed source.

Sharing Out the Android Pie

China requires that Google offers Android in a non-discriminatory manner to OEMs who have agreed not to differentiate the platform or create derivatives. Google also has to comply with the existing fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) rules governing Motorola Mobility.

FRAND is the touchstone of much litigation between companies in the mobile market, such as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Motorola Mobility and Samsung.

If market conditions or the state of competition in the market change, Google can apply to modify or rescind the requirements for free and open licensing and for offering the Android platform without discrimination to OEMs. Further, these two requirements will no longer apply if Google in essence doesn’t own Motorola Mobility.

“I’m not sure if Google had to take anything off the table to reach this agreement,” Michael Morgan, a senior analyst at ABI Research, told LinuxInsider.

Why Focus on Openness?

Android has always been open source, and “I don’t think there’s much danger of Google taking Android to a single hardware OEM or leveraging it in any way other than through open source and free licensing in the short term,” IDC’s Hilwa told LinuxInsider.

“You don’t compete with Apple with another fully integrated single device; you out-flank them with a diametrically opposed strategy , which is what Google succeeded in doing with Android,” Hilwa continued.

On the other hand, “think about the language and messaging Google has put around the Motorola [Mobility] acquisition,” ABI’s Morgan pointed out. “It’s a separate business unit and will be run as a separate business.”

If Google gave Motorola Mobility preferential or sole access to Android source code and ran for-fee services on the platform, it “will have hardware all the way up to the Internet, and that will be a lot of power for one company to have, seeing that Google pretty much owns the Internet and Android is strong in the mobile market,” Morgan said.

Where’s Android Going?

“Keeping it open should help improve the amount of features and stuff that are added,” ABI’s Morgan said. “There are Chinese versions of Android out there, and what they and Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) have done is just tweak Android; the core kernel remains the same.”

Being open “does not mean being unchanged,” IDC’s Hilwa asserted. “I expect Android to evolve vigorously over the next five years.”

Article source: http://www.technewsworld.com/story/75173.html

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26 Feb 12 Google Android Desktop Patent Points to Haswell Ultrabooks


Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) isn’t content to simply attack
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) desktop hegemonies with
Chrome Operating System, the company’s lightweight Web operating system for
laptops.

A recent patent filing by the search engine giant hints
that It might build desktops and laptops based on its Android software, which
to this point has been limited to smartphones, tablets, and the occasional
household appliance or other odd device implementations.

Patently Apple said Google’s new patent suggests similar functionalities from
Apple’s Multi-Touch Trackpad and Magic Trackpad. That is, capabilities for
trackpad operations corresponding to touchscreen events. 

Specifically, trackpad operations may be directly mapped
to touchscreen events and processed by applications. In one implementation a user
may move a single finger on the trackpad device to cause a displayed pointer to
move on a display device of the computing device.

The user may also touch or tap a single finger on the
trackpad device to deliver a simulated touchscreen finger tap at the current
pointer location as displayed on the display device.

Patently Apple showed a
diagram from Google’s patent depicting a computing device that may be
configured to map trackpad operations to corresponding touchscreen events.

As one would imagine, the multi-touch trackpad
instantiation would work similar to the trackpad, albeit with two fingers
instead of one. Users could drag, scroll, fling or even pinch-to-zoom content
much as they would on a tablet computer. However, this technology would also be
used in netbook and laptops.

Patently Apple speculated that Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) could expand
its support for Android beyond smartphones to power Ultrabooks with its
“Haswell” processor chips, designed to create harmony between
notebooks and tablets, in 2013.

A Google spokesperson was noncommittal about the patent
filing, telling eWEEK: “We file patent applications on a variety of ideas
that our employees come up with. Some of those ideas later mature into real
products or services, some don’t. Prospective product announcements should not
necessarily be inferred from our patent applications.”

IDC analyst Al Hilwa said mobile and desktops are
converging, with the real battle being fought between congruent end-to-end
developer and device ecosystems built around these platforms. Ultimately, this
means Google , Apple and Microsoft will be stomping around in each other’s sandboxes.

“I have no doubt that Google will eventually push
Android harder into other form factors,” Hilwa told eWEEK.

“Android
device makers and developers would love this opportunity to expand their reach
and leverage their invested skills. Chrome OS may be seen as a play in this
area, but it’s pure Web approach does not really leverage the app economy in
the same way Android does. In many ways you are seeing Google respond to
Microsoft’s serious effort to take the PC into the mobile world by moving
Android to the PC world.”

 

 

Article source: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Desktops-and-Notebooks/Google-Android-Desktop-Patent-Points-to-Haswell-Ultrabooks-272327/

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08 Feb 12 Google accelerates Android browser updates with mobile Chrome


Computerworld -

Google’s launch today of Chrome for Android may be a move to accelerate the pace of browser updates, an analyst said.

“Google’s playing catch-up here,” said Al Hilwa of IDC. “Although both the stock Android and Chrome browsers are WebKit-derived, [the former] is fundamentally behind the times compared to what others, like Microsoft with IE9 on Metro, are doing. The stock Android browser needs much more hardware acceleration, for example, and better support for HTML5.”

Google can get those advanced features into Android users hands faster with Chrome, said Hilwa, because the new browser — currently offered as a beta — is essentially the same browser as the desktop edition that Google updates every six-to-eight weeks.

Shifting to Chrome and its faster-paced release schedule sidesteps the less-frequent system updates that Google now offers Android users to freshen the stock Android browser. Chrome on Android is an app available on the Android Market, and so uses that e-store’s built-in update mechanism.

In the months since Google last updated Android — and the Android browser — to version 4.0 last October, the company has shipped Chrome 15 and Chrome 16 to its “stable” channel of Chrome for the desktop, and many more interim security updates. If Google keeps to its typical pace, it will ship Chrome 17 within the next week or so.

Chrome also gives Google a credible rival to the third-party browsers that now crowd the Market, including those from Opera Software and Mozilla.

According to Web metrics company Net Applications, the Android stock browser accounted for 18% of all browsers run on mobile devices last month, Opera Mini, which does not run on Apple’s iOS, had a 20% share.

Version 4.0 of the Android browser, which debuted alongside Android 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich, in mid-October, 2011, accounted for nearly all of Google’s share.

Even though Chrome for Android requires Ice Cream Sandwich — that version of the OS powers a minute 1% of all Android devices now in use — Google has big plans for the browser.

“Right now, our focus is on making Chrome for Android Beta available to Android 4.0 phone/tablet users to gather initial feedback…. [But] our long-term plan is for Chrome to become the standard browser on Android 4.0 and above,” said a Google spokeswoman in an email reply to questions Tuesday.

IDC’s Hilwa also applauded other features of Chrome on Android, including synchronization of that browser with desktop editions running on, say, notebook and desktops. “[Synchronization] is an important feature, and this is definitely a sign of things to come on how Android owners will use multiple devices,” said Hilwa.

More at our Android page

Article source: http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9224057/Google_accelerates_Android_browser_updates_with_mobile_Chrome

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