Court Docs Reveal Google’s Been Bullying Android Developers

Google uses Android compatibility standards to suppress fast-rising developers. At least that’s what the latest court docs say in the lawsuit between the Skyhook (who specialise in location-based services) and the Big G.

The allegation coming from Skyhook, according to the New York Times, is that Google manipulates Android compatibility standards to prevent App developers from using services (like Skyhook) which would eat away from Google’s own market share in this area (in this instance, Google Maps).

And according to an email sent by Android manager Dan Morill, they’re pretty aware of it.

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.

As the story goes, when Motorola chose to use Skyhook’s location technology in their phones, Google decided to put the clamps on that and changed the compatibility rules to force handset makers back to Google’s technologies.

However, industry analysts are defending Google, saying that control is necessary for a good user experience (a line used before to defend Android decision making by Google that wasn’t exactly in like with their open source promises).

Who’s right and wrong in this situation remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: how Google juggles an open-source philosophy with their business interests will be a heavily scrutinised issue going forward. [NY TImes]

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