Analyst: Motorola's Best Play Is To Become A Patent Troll & Destroy Android Ecosystem With Patent Lawsuits

from the great dept

Weren’t patents supposed to be about encouraging innovation? Of course, the reality is that they’re mostly used for the opposite purpose, which is holding back innovation, stopping other companies and cashing in on the lawsuits. It seems that some analysts aren’t even pretending that patents are useful for innovation any more. Trip Chowdhry, a somewhat well known analyst in the tech space, is claiming that Motorola has failed in selling its Android-based Xoom tablets, and should give them up. He then suggests that the company go full on patent troll and sue everyone else making Android tablets. Because that will help the market. Think of it as Chowdhry’s scorched earth policy: if Motorola can’t succeed in Android tablets, no one should succeed in Android tablets. Apparently, Chowdhry thinks this is a good thing, because Android sucks in his opinion (though, not in the opinions of plenty of folks who are happily snapping up Android devices at an increasingly rapid rate…):

The successful launch of the iPhone on Verizon, he writes, has “taken the wind” out of Android’s sails. The Google app store is “a disaster.” Honeycomb, the operating system on which Motorola has hitched its wagon, is “incomplete,” “unstable,” has a “poor UI” and is basically “dead on arrival.”

All in all, Motorola’s “competitive fixation” on Apple (AAPL) and Research in Motion (RIMM) is misplaced. Rather than trying to innovate on software, Chowdry suggests, “selectively attacking with patents other Android phone OEM’s is a better strategy.”

Or, you know, the company could take that effort and focus on making a better product and improving the overall market. But, suing everyone else and burning down the whole Android market is apparently more fun… at least for those with a ridiculously short-term focus on quarterly results, rather than a long-term focus on innovation and actually building out profitable business lines.

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Companies: motorola

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Comments on “Analyst: Motorola's Best Play Is To Become A Patent Troll & Destroy Android Ecosystem With Patent Lawsuits”

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45 Comments
Greevar (profile) says:

This is getting old.

How many more people are going to urge companies to abuse the law and prey on those that wish to legitimately compete? There are so many stories out there about people that suggest that companies should just sue the world for trying to do what they failed to accomplish. I wish the public domain could sue these people for “stealing” its “IP” and using it to make a profit. Why not? Every work of art is derived from art that came before it. Every invention is based on knowledge that came before it. People who make ideas into reality use a lot of the commonwealth of our collective culture and knowledge for their profit, why can’t we sue them?

AdamR (profile) says:

The Google app store is “a disaster.” Honeycomb, the operating system on which Motorola has hitched its wagon, is “incomplete,” “unstable,” has a “poor UI” and is basically “dead on arrival.”

He is right about that, it seem that Moto and a few others thought they could slap Google,Android, and honeycomb and magically have million unit sellers.

AdamR (profile) says:

Re: Re: Dubious assertions.

Well let’s start with the only way you could get apps was thru the phone, there was no app store web site to browse and download apps.
Certain apps were listed as free but when you ran them the tried to push to there website to buy pro version or add on to there app. You had no option of purchasing it from Google.
You use to have a 24hour option to return apps for whatever reason that’s pretty much gone. There was no easy way of finding out if app were even compatible if your phone manufacture or OS version.
The list could gone on.

Mike42 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Dubious assertions.

Man, you had a lot of problems with your phone. Mine works just fine. I didn’t get pushed to a website, and you have 15 minutes to figure out if the app is compatible with your phone. I’m not sure why you would try to browse and download apps from a website? Also, Honeycomb is the VERSION of Android for tablets, it wasn’t bundled with Android.

AdamR (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Dubious assertions.

I love my Motorola Droid, I have owned Motorola phones for the last 10 years. The Droid was a major step in the right direction for Verizon, Motorola, and Android. I also own and Ipod touch and Ipad. My thing is that Android and Motorola are lacking in many key areas and don’t them stepping it up correct or add value to a product that deserves more.

PS sorry to say 15 minutes is not enough to put a program threw its paces to see if it meets your needs correctly. I have purchased more than a dozen apps and so far have and have returned two, but it took a few hours to try and track down and figure things out.

umb231 (profile) says:

how much of the poor ui, incompleteness, and instability are from motorola sticking their own cruddy apps and ui on top of stock honeycomb though? how’s their own app store doing? and since the os is “open” why aren’t they fixing it all themselves if they’re already willing to much around in the coding for things their customers dont care for?

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Re: Re:

As an Atrix Owner, I completely agree with this, Give me Plain unrestricted Android OS, Unlock the bootloader, and stop getting in the way of progress.

Locking all these features out completely goes against what Android was suppose to be about.

They need to Let open source products do what they are suppose to do. Build off each other until someone develops a complete, easy to use, intuitive app that becomes the default app to use. If I wanted another walled garden I would have bought another iPhone.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Indeed. I’ve been looking at the Droid Bionic, but the fact that Motorola put their Motorblur UI extensions over the top is really giving me pause. My original Droid handset runs stock Android, and I’ve been happy getting OTA updates in a reasonable timeframe.

Not sure I want Moto mucking about with the software in ways that don’t benefit me, just so that they can turn around and use that as an excuse to avoid pushing updates in a timely manner.

John Doe says:

His bias is showing

The only thing Motorola has done wrong with the Xoom is the pricing. It is the standards bearer in the Android tablet market right now. Though that may change with the release of the Asus tablet today.

I don’t have a tablet, but do have a Droid phone and will say it wins hands down compared to the iPhone (IMHO). Many other people obviously feel the same way. The tablets are just now really hitting the market and soon enough Droid tablets will outsell iPads.

All of this is a good thing, competition drives innovation, not patents.

Jay says:

Re: His bias is showing - correct terminology

Just a tiny correction. There have been way too many incorrect reference of Android as “Droid”. The word “Droid” is actually a trade mark of Lucas Film. Verizon license the word “Droid” from Lucas Film to differentiate their Android line of phones from others. Legally, only Verizon can call their Android running phones “Droid”. Any other smartphones and tablets running Android outside of Verizon are simply “Android phones” or “Android tablets”.

Nom du Clavier (profile) says:

Imagination

Chowdry fails at it. Weren’t analysts supposed to have a modicum of imagination, to – you know – better analyse possible scenarios and extrapolate from where we are to its logical conclusion?

I mean I’d rather enjoy Microsoft dropping out of the console race and deciding to sue Sony out of existence, but predicting that’s in Microsoft’s interest would be a bit of a stretch to say the least.

charliebrown (profile) says:

Re: Re: Imagination

This is completely off topic from the article but kind of on topic for what you were saying above.

I was telling a friend last night how I’d like a “one size fits all” console – one that would play PS1/2/3, xBox 1/360 and Nintendo GameCube/Wii games without needing separate consoles. I concluded that there are people out there who could build such a console but would probably get their asses sued off for patent infringement and promoting piracy if they sold such a unit. Personally I would buy one and buy the games too.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Imagination

It’s more than a legal issue to create a universal game console. The software for each console is crafted to operate on very specific hardware that are not cross-compatible with each other. You’d be force to run one console in native mode, while the others would be emulated on that hardware or just emulate all of them (both would take very hefty hardware that nobody can afford).

The only practical solution to accomplish what you want is to create an entirely new game console that is a universal console which focuses entirely on getting developers to create games for that platform. This would lead to a monopoly in the console games market and drive hardware prices sky high.

It would be far better to build a cross-platform API that has an interpreter for every OS. Then you could run your game on any PC that has a compatible interpreter. Either that, or the developers could use an open standards API that can compile to every OS out there. OpenGL/CL comes to mind.

CommonSense (profile) says:

Quarterly profit over longevity

Turning patent troll might help Motorola for the next few quarters, but after they’ve sued their market away, and pissed off consumers world-wide, what will they be left with?? The people who wouldn’t care that Motorola did something so stupid are already buying Apple devices, so they won’t switch, and everyone else will avoid them just so they’re not supporting STUPIDITY, corporate greed and entitlement.

Maybe instead of thinking that your product failed because something else was better, look a little harder at the market and figure out if it’s really that big to begin with. I saw my first windows tablet when I was in college, around 2003, and never saw another one until a couple of years ago at my job, when we started selling software to run on a windows tablet. We haven’t sold very many. I don’t know anyone that has an Android tablet, though I know a few people considering the smaller ones (comparable to the iPod Touch) to replace their old Palm Pilots and such.
I do know a few people with iPads though, and they’re the type of people who buy toys just to look cool, who spend money to feel important, and only bought iPad’s because they were the next big release from Apple, and that means they needed it in order to be as cool as they felt they were.

Long story short, I don’t think tablets are that great, and I think Apple has only been successful with them because their target audience is rich and doesn’t have a lot of sense. No one I know has logically evaluated the tablet option and actually decided it was a good move. Most people have a tablet as their phone, or they have a laptop which does more than the tablet could, or they have a netbook for portability.

I think a smarter move than turning patent troll would be to think about something innovative, and move forward with that. Or, because I understand creative thinking is difficult for old companies like Motorola, they could at least put some of their weight behind making Android a better competitor to iOS… but even there, I think the ROI would be lacking….

TechnoMage (profile) says:

Umm... Wow... so biased, and uninformed.

I’m currently doing my capstone on evaluating and measuring Android’s Dalvik Virtual Machine’s efficiency compared to native compiled c code (on the same target device).

Android’s DEX code is faster in many cases(obviously not all, process bound are the most ideal for native assembly). This has to due with the nature of a register based virtual machine versus that of a stack based one. Plus, who knows how many optimizations DX and Dalvik use, let alone the just-in-time compiler of the Android platform since 2.2.

From a purely operating system level view of security, Android wins almost every comparison to iOS(but still thats my {educated} opinion on the matter) (Not saying there isn’t room for Android’s improvement. Namely a major area that can be improved is allowing applications to be installed if they request a certain functionality, such as Internet access, even if you don’t wish to give that functionality to the App. Then, blocking that App’s ability to access that resource,the Internet in this example)

The folks at CyanogenMod ( http://review.cyanogenmod.com/#change,4055 ) have been discussing and working on this topic and have a potential solution under review currently.

Another potential Issue to address is having a finer grain permission for Internet access. Instead of [android.permission.INTERNET] for any and all Internet access, [ android.permission.INTERNET_ADVERTISEMENTS_AD_MOBI_DOT_COM ] etc. This would allow ad-driven sites to still access updated advertisements, but not to send data to other locations (while still being fully legit {ignoring tunneling information through the advertiser}).

Also… Android VS iPhone… wow… just a flame war waiting to start, but with the new “phones tracking you” news going around, it is worth mentioning that Android only keeps a temporary cache file, that stores approximately the last two days worth of information(This information needs to be cached for a short while, to determine geo-location, direction, speed, etc. for Applications which you want to allow to track you. Such as jogging apps, gps-navigation, etc). Unlike Apple’s which never stops collecting information. (and personally that has to add up… months/years of GPS locations isn’t going to be small).

Sorry for the rambling. Hope this helps someone make an informed: decision or built opinion. (And yes I am biased also, though I try to remove that from my objective decision making)

-MAW

TechnoMage (profile) says:

Re: Re: Code (not really a) smackdown

Umm… actually I don’t think you understand the point of “evaluating and measuring Android’s Dalvik Virtual Machine’s efficiency…” I never said one was “Winning” over the other, just that DEX code running in a Dalvik VM is faster than the equivalent c/native code in many cases. (which even google admits “The NDK will not benefit most applications.” ( http://developer.android.com/sdk/ndk/overview.html )

I’m not declaring war on the Android NDK or anything. The purpose of my research has been to try and compare these two different tools, and to give guidance on when would be a good point to use native code. As the saying goes: right tool for the job.

Heuristics that only compute bound processes should be put into native code through the NDK, is nice and all, but being able to back it up with facts and statistics of when the breaking-even point is…(for runtime efficiency, ignoring code complexity at this point) thats much better.

Perhaps Programming gods like you don’t need academic research, but mere flesh and blood mortals like me can’t match your level. So, we’ll have to settle on having facts and data to help us make our decisions, not just your omniscience.

Almost Anonymous (profile) says:

Re: Umm... Wow... so biased, and uninformed.

“””Namely a major area that can be improved is allowing applications to be installed if they request a certain functionality, such as Internet access, even if you don’t wish to give that functionality to the App. Then, blocking that App’s ability to access that resource,the Internet in this example)

The folks at CyanogenMod ( http://review.cyanogenmod.com/#change,4055 ) have been discussing and working on this topic and have a potential solution under review currently.”””

There is also a project called TISSA (Taming Information-Stealing Smartphone Applications) for Android under development that will basically do the same thing. For specific categories, say Contacts, it allows you to choose Empty data, Anonymized data, Bogus data, or Trusted (meaning real data, I suppose). I’m looking forward to it’s eventual release:
http://mobile.engadget.com/2011/04/19/ncsu-teases-tissa-for-android-a-security-manager-that-keeps-per/

Wiggs (profile) says:

Here’s some more uninformed opinion, worth about as much as this analyst’s.

Apple has clearly made enough money providing a “walled garden” utopia for its users, so it’s time for Apple to simply call it quits and leave the scraps of the market (the “unbelievers” or “heretics”) who are not already obsessed with their iDevices to be squabbled over like leftover meat by the losers: RIM and everybody else (Moto, HTC, Nokia, whoever).

After all, since everybody already has an iPhone or an iPad who could possibly want them? (Since, of course, they’re so incredibly perfect, if you don’t have one by now, you’ll just never understand.) What reason does Apple have to stay in the market at all? I say they should just bow out, now that they’ve clearly proven their hipster superiority, and start suing everyone else for “not being cool enough to own an iPhone.”

Lesath (profile) says:

I have a Xoom and it is far from unstable. Incomplete? Maybe. Definitely should have hit the magic $500 price point. I also wouldn’t characterize the app store as a mess. Should be streamlined though. And yes, there are not a lot of true tablet apps out yet, I think the number stands 67 but it is growing. Meanwhile 95% of the phone apps work fine on the tablet.

Anonymous Coward says:

A couple of things:
Motorola has some pretty good hardware out there for android. They may be a bit off on pricing/market etc, but the hardware incorporates some good tech and design in my opinion. Problem 1: A lot of people like android as an anti-iOS because it has been more open. So what does motorola do, use hardware features to lock down the bootloader, hence negating some of that edge for sales. Probelm 2: They pursued advertising that limited their market from the beginning and forgot to talk about the real world value for people beyond ‘flashy’ factors. They already have been working against themselves, so maybe litigation is in their ‘own worst enemy’ strategy. Invest in lawyers and court costs instead of hiring software developers to create a better, more attractive market. +jobs for economy, +more/quality apps for ecosystem = more potential to sell hardware.

Nick Coghlan (profile) says:

Honeycomb is the 1.0 edition of Android's tablet UI

It took Android a few iterations to get up to a competitive level with iOS in the smartphone space (I’d personally peg that point as the HTC Desire with Android 2.1, although others may place it earlier or later. Most would agree that at least 2.2 is a viable alternative to iOS for the majority of users, even if the lack of vertical integration still makes for a less smooth overall experience).

A similar dynamic is playing out in the tablet space. Apple have an ~18 month or so head start, and 3.0 has visible rough edges that detract from its viability for many users. However, 3.1 (expected later this year) will likely meet the “good enough” standard for tablets that was achieved by 2.1 for smartphones, and the multi-vendor strategy will start to tell the story in sales volume.

Apple have played this game many times before, and they appear to be quite happy with the role of establishing a viable product niche and then settling in as a premium offering rather than going for absolute market dominance (about the only time they’ve pulled off the latter is with the iPod – for everything else, lower priced competitors have come along with a freely or cheaply licensed alternative)

patent litigation (user link) says:

This brings to mind a quote I once heard from (former Van Halen frontman) David Lee Roth: When asked how you know when you’ve “made it,” Roth responded: “When you can spell ‘subpoena’ without thinking about it.” The abundance of copyright and patent litigation volleyed against Android is testimony to its success. Time will tell whether or not it will be able to survive the onslaught.

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