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Skyhook Wireless Sues Google Over Anti-Competitive Practices

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the location-location-location dept.

Google 228

dwightk writes "According to a lawsuit brought by Skyhook Wireless, Google allegedly forced Motorola, among other Android handset makers, to use Google's own location services instead of alternatives like Skyhook's. Quoting the lawsuit: 'In complete disregard of its common-law and statutory obligations, and in direct opposition to its public messaging encouraging open innovation, Google wielded its control over the Android operating system ... to force device manufacturers to use its technology rather than that of Skyhook, to terminate contractual obligations with Skyhook, and to otherwise force device manufacturers to sacrifice superior end user experience with Skyhook by threatening directly or indirectly to deny timely and equal access to evolving versions of the Android operating system and other Google mobile applications.'" John Gruber points out another interesting excerpt from the complaint regarding Google's procedure for determining Android compliance, which includes what Skyhook calls an "amorphous outline of additional, non-standardized requirements" that "effectively gives Google the ability to arbitrarily deem any software, feature or function 'non-compatible.'"

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Fanboys (-1, Troll)

jxs2151 (554138) | about 4 years ago | (#33610188)

I remember when all the Fanboyz here were telling me how evil MS was.

Re:Fanboys (0, Offtopic)

bem (1977) | about 4 years ago | (#33610292)

What makes you believe MS is not evil?

The actions of MS are what make MS evil: not the actions of others.

Re:Fanboys (2, Insightful)

zombieChan51 (1862028) | about 4 years ago | (#33610326)

Why don't we just wrap it up and say most companies are evil. The bigger they are the more unethical stuff we'll point out. Sure Microsoft has done unethical stuff, but it's ran by people. People are greedy and will do anything to get richer. Google is ran by people, thus they're greedy.

Re:Fanboys (0, Troll)

jxs2151 (554138) | about 4 years ago | (#33610486)

But, but, but....five years ago everyone here was telling me that Google was somehow different and would mod down those who disagreed. I'm just glad I hung around long enough to see you guys get your education.

Re:Fanboys (2, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | about 4 years ago | (#33610634)

I don't see the evil side yet. Google shouldn't be forced to make their Maps application compatible with every location service out there. Why don't Skyhook work with other mapping software manufacturers, or roll their own?

If they are actively stopping Skyhook's software from working on the device then that is evil, but Google shouldn't be forced to integrate Skyhook with Maps any more than MS should be required to make IE compatible with Firefox plugins, or provide an OpenGL mode for all their games. They're free to do it if they want, but they don't have to.

Re:Fanboys (1)

lalena (1221394) | about 4 years ago | (#33611402)

Of course bigger companies are evil based on this definition. It is hard to be anti-competitive when you have a 5% market share.

Re:Fanboys (1)

emptycorp (908368) | about 4 years ago | (#33610940)

Way to take what he said WAAAAAAAY out of context.

He didn't say MS isn't evil, he said something like "my how the tides have turned" where more and more news on the internet keeps showing the evil side of google. This is considered irony as google was supposed to be the 'do no evil'/anti-M$-evil company and more and more they are showing their true colors.

Re:Fanboys (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 4 years ago | (#33610974)

Or over there at Google, people are realizing that pushing a platform that's completely open and yet fully supported and still works perfectly when you swap out major components, like location services, is actually really hard.

There's a reason that Apple is a solutions provider rather than a hardware, OS, or software shop.

Re:Fanboys (1)

GeorgeMonroy (784609) | about 4 years ago | (#33610312)

Google is officially evil

Homosex (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610192)

IS A SIN. And therefore so is TrisexualPuppy. Fellow slashdongers, reply to this message to be seen above all other messages and therefore get modded up.

Each day, Google. Each day. (0)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#33610246)

Each day you do something that moves you further and further away from your motto. Is it because you're just getting so big that it's becoming impossible to stay completely honest and still compete, or are you just getting power hungry?

Methinks it's a little from column A and a little from column B.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 4 years ago | (#33610278)

Anybody remembers Microsoft? And their "competitive" practices? Is GOOGLE the new Evil?

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33610518)

Not as long as Microsoft and Apple still exists. Google will just be 3rd place.

BTW openness isn't always the greatest thing. Commodore operated an open OS with no restrictions whatsoever, including the ability to run your own personal OS, and look where they are today (bankrupt). Apple also verged on bankruptcy until Steve Jobs came-along and stopped their open "mac clone" program and sealed everything behind lock-and-key.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 4 years ago | (#33610786)

Commodore operated an open OS with no restrictions whatsoever, including the ability to run your own personal OS, and look where they are today (bankrupt).

WTF are you talking about? You can run on your own personal OS on any commodity PC today. And that includes Apple's machines. Just hack any one of the dozens of open source operating systems, ranging from the *BSDs to Linux to one of the BeOS clones to a Windows NT clone.

Additionally, Commodore's implosion had little to do with operating systems or openness and everything to do with horrible mismanagement and poor leadership.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33610908)


I'm probably wrong about Apple too. What made them nearly imploded in the 1995-97 timeframe, when they had billion-dollar losses? Or Atari Computers implode about the same time?

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 4 years ago | (#33611204)

Well, there was definitely quite a bit of poor leadership and mismanagement at Apple prior to the return of Steve Jobs. John Sculley, Michael Spindler and Gil Amelio each did their part to run Apple into the ground. (Actually, the history is a bit unfair to Gil Amelio, who was the man who made the call to buy NeXT and NeXTSTEP, upon which OS X is based.)

As for Atari, I don't know the whole story, but what I do know is that they were never able to outsell their closest competitor, Commodore.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (2, Insightful)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 4 years ago | (#33611010)

Not yet, but getting there. Giving past examples, remember Apple was the white knight of /. from circa 2000 - 2005, and then there was the Linux flavor of the year until that flavor gets too 'popular' or too 'successful' at which point the /. moves to support another flavor etc., I give it at least another year, maybe two before Google is considered the new "evil". I'm not sure who will replace them as the new "white knights". Maybe the folks with Meego?

I mean seriously I remember when RH got started and the rah, rah cheerleading people here gave RH. "See someone can make a commercial linux and be sucessful!". They they actually became successful and then SuSE became the next big thing(tm). Then SuSE started to be successful, got bought out by Novell and then the community went, "look at Debian, it is the ONE TRUE LINUX (tm)". It started to be successful and then came Ubuntu. Now Ubuntu's successful and you are starting to hear the complaints of "Well it's controlled by one man's vision" and "They don't give enough back."

I've seen it enough now that I've come to the conclusion that there is a large group of people here who just hate success.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | about 4 years ago | (#33611262)

If by success you mean killing the competition, yes, i do hate the success. In fact, i really believe that while MS has a pure evil desire to break the Google monopoly (ant-trust laws anybody?), i do believe that it should be done. Now GOOGLE is really too big, a way too big.... Do you remember what happened with "Too big to fail" banks, AIG, Freddy and co?

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (4, Insightful)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 4 years ago | (#33610280)

They haven't been found guilty yet. Totally agree with the sentiment of your post mind you, I
just think it's worth taking a wait and see approach on this one...

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

jav1231 (539129) | about 4 years ago | (#33610398)

I'm pulling for Skyhook. They're not asking to be king. They're asking to compete. Something Google apparently didn't want to do. Sounds familiar. This is a Netscape vs. IE war.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610464)

One of these things is not like the other.
One of these things just doesn't belong.
One of these stories is about a monopoly,
and Google Android in the mobile space sure as shite ain't.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (2, Interesting)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 years ago | (#33610468)

I'm not sure if Google is really the bad guy here. Skyhook's concept is cool and all, but there may be other reasons Skyhook wasn't considered for providing location data in Android. If they'd made a decent offer and provided a service that's up to par, why should Google go to all the trouble of setting up their own location tech? Wouldn't it have been much cheaper and easier to just use Skyhook?

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | about 4 years ago | (#33610546)

>>>why should Google go to all the trouble of setting up their own location tech?

For the same reason Google created their Maps application, even though Mapquest had already existed for a decade. i.e. A chance to make money. Anyway looking-out certain apps sounds less like an IE v. Netscape situation, and more like an Apple "lock out competitors" deal.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 years ago | (#33610614)

But how exactly do they make money from their WiFi geolocation service? Maps, okay, put in ads or paid POI... but WiFi geolocation isn't exactly something you can monetize unless you sell it...?

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 4 years ago | (#33610738)

Haven't you heard the talk about geolocation specific ads?

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 years ago | (#33610784)

Of course... but why would using Skyhook for geolocation stop Google from putting location-sensitive ads in apps?

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | about 4 years ago | (#33610758)

Skyhook isn't totally open and doesn't give everything away. Perhaps Google could roll their own for less money than Skyhook wanted.

Not everything has to directly generate revenue. The more you use the internet, the more money Google makes. Google does lots of things that seem to be only about making the online experience better thus having you spend more time online and seeing more of their ads.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610648)

Mapquest was horrible compared to what Google brought with Google Map. I practically never used a map website before since it was not that much helpful.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

larry bagina (561269) | about 4 years ago | (#33610690)

fun fact: Google had been in talks to license skyhook's tech/database before deciding to do it themselves.

fun fact: Knowing where you are helps google make money.

fun fact: Companies go to the trouble of doing shit if it makes them money.

bonus fun fact: Apple used skyhook until iPhone OS (as it was then called) version 3, at which point they started doing it in house.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 years ago | (#33610726)

How does knowing where you are through Skyhook make Google less money than knowing where you are through their own in-house system?

I hardly think that rolling their own system was cheaper than just licensing Skyhook would've been...

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | about 4 years ago | (#33611292)

bonus fun fact: Apple used skyhook until iPhone OS (as it was then called) version 3, at which point they started doing it in house.

Which raises the question of why Skyhook is not suing both Apple and Google.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (4, Insightful)

timster (32400) | about 4 years ago | (#33611398)

You don't get anywhere by suing companies that decide not to use your product. The Google situation is not at all similar -- the allegation is that Google PREVENTED Motorola from using Skyhook's product.

I see a lot of dumb comments above about how Google shouldn't be forced to integrate Skyhook's location services, but this isn't about Google integrating Skyhook's location services. This is about Motorola choosing to use Skyhook on Android, and Google refusing to allow it.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | about 4 years ago | (#33610544)

I don't think we really know the whole truth of this. I wouldn't be surprised, but I'm not willing to be bothered by it until I have more confidence in the information. Legal filings often seem to overstate their case as much as they can.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33610552)

TFA reads like Skyhook wrote it. I'm going to have to Google for a less biased FA. Oh look, here's one. [] Facts minus editorializing.

Oh, and this [] is a very interesting wrinkle on it:

Motorola reported Thursday that it has acquired Aloqa, a Germany-based firm that supplies location services for mobile phones. Motorola said it plans to team Aloqa with its Motoblur feature, which consolidates cell phone users' social networking apps in a single, easy-to-view interface.
News of the acquisition comes a day after Skyhook, another location firm, sued Google, charging, among other things, that Google had contacted Motorola to block Skyhook's service. While the Aloqa acquisition and the Skyhook-Google litigation are not connected, they illustrate the growing importance of location features on mobile phones.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (2, Interesting)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 4 years ago | (#33610790)

TFA reads like Skyhook wrote it. I'm going to have to Google for a less biased FA.

We're trusting google to provide an unbiased view of itself?

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (2)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33611352)

I'm not looking for Google's view (which they haven't even made public yet). The googling turned up the FA linked in the summary, so clearly we can expect Google to provide a view biased against Google. If they're going to give a result that makes them look bad, that's pretty good evidence that they can be trusted to provide an unbiased view.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610576)

Whereas Apple, who dropped Skyhook too, had also replaced the functionality with their own implementation isn't doing the same thing?

All we have here is a company getting pissy their limited business model has been replaced on two very popular platforms. Tough titties. If they want, they can release their own applications that use their implementation, and then compete in the market. Too easy though, they know their toast is done. They're looking for a payout from the big boys before shutting up shop.

Re:Each day, Google. Each day. (2, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | about 4 years ago | (#33610664)

What did Google do yesterday? What did they do the day before? Perhaps you could share a calendar showing the other 5 things they've done in the last 7 days?

Isn't it just so very fashionable to proclaim the burgeoning evil of Google these days.

A competitor has accused Google of something. Perhaps, we should wait and see if it is true? When Microsoft said Linux was using its patents without permission did we just accept it as fact? The /. view certainly seemed to be put up or shut up.

Google offers a mobile platform that you can use without paying them. Even if they did require that it came with their map program is that really 'evil'? Sure, we'd like everything 100% free and optional but that doesn't make 99% free and optional 'evil'.

Is it an act of evil if I give £1,000 to a foreign aid charity and ask that the money not be used to promote 'organic' farming? I'm sure they'd appreciate complete freedom, but I doubt they'd think I was on a slippery slope to pure evil.

Skyhook's funding ... (2, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 years ago | (#33610274)

Skyhook had links to Allen & Company (
Allen & Company had George Tenet of CIA fame as a managing director.
The NSA likes Google, the CIA is/was close to Skyhook.
This seems more like an interagency turf war over next gen real time phone tracking than the free market.

Re:Skyhook's funding ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610382)

+4 Interesting? Are there really that many tin foil hats on slashdot?

Re:Skyhook's funding ... (2, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 years ago | (#33610474) []
"... and Allen & Company." []
"... February 2008 to become the managing director of the secretive investment bank Allen & Company."
NSA/Google []

Re:Skyhook's funding ... (1)

KarrdeSW (996917) | about 4 years ago | (#33610916)

Ted Morgan (your link with Allen & Company) worked there long ago at the beginning of his career.

George Tenet, by your own quote, only has links with Allen & Company starting February 2008.

What exactly are you claiming happened? The former A&C grunt who now is CEO of Skyhook went and called up George Tenet (who he has never met, at least not through A&C) to do... what? Make the CIA suddenly interested in signal and cytological intelligence?

You're also forgetting that each agency is allowed to choose its own technology vendors. If the NSA really wants to give a contract to Google then the CIA can't stop them, nor would they care, as they can just give their phone-tracking contract to Skyhook.

Re:Skyhook's funding ... (1)

natehoy (1608657) | about 4 years ago | (#33611160)

Yes, the tin foil hat wearers are part of a conspiracy.

Whackos... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610402)

can find a conspiracy theory in everything... I swear...

Re:Skyhook's funding ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610410)

mod parent up

Re:Skyhook's funding ... (4, Funny)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 4 years ago | (#33610462)

Now *thats* reaching....

Re:Skyhook's funding ... (5, Funny)

Dr_Terminus (1222504) | about 4 years ago | (#33610932)

You didn't finish... where's the link to Kevin Bacon?

Re:Skyhook's funding ... (1)

TeXMaster (593524) | about 4 years ago | (#33611040)

Damn, where're my +5 Funny mod points when you need them

I am interested, etc. (1)

wiredog (43288) | about 4 years ago | (#33611260)

And would like to subscribe, etc...

Re:Skyhook's funding ... (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | about 4 years ago | (#33611316)

You must be quite the acrobat to stretch that far. Jesus Christ, are you really that desperate to defend Google?

Re:Skyhook's funding ... (1)

corbettw (214229) | about 4 years ago | (#33611418)

Tin foil is for baked potatoes and left overs; I'd suggest getting a new hat made from something else.

FUD (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610300)

1) This requirement only applies to Android that is bundled with Google's proprietary apps/services. If you take Android without Google's integration and market... you can use what you want.

2) There are many alternative markets out there.

3) You can use alternate location services in apps from the market...

4) Google tried to work with Skyhook requesting examples of their location data.... Skyhook refused... so since Google couldn't guarantee it would work with their services... etc

Re:FUD (1)

hawkeyeMI (412577) | about 4 years ago | (#33610348)

Exactly, you can take Android and do with it what you like. Google's requiring that if you want to sell a device and use all of their proprietary stuff (build stock Android -- it won't include Market, Gmail, etc...), you need to use *all* of their proprietary stuff. A fair tradeoff, I think.

Re:FUD (4, Interesting)

Drakino (10965) | about 4 years ago | (#33610528)

So why didn't Google issue a stop ship on the Samsung Fascinate, the Galaxy S on Verizon that removes all traces of Google search and replaces it with Bing? There is no option on the phone to revert it either, and the phone does include the Market, GMail, etc.

Re:FUD (1)

hawkeyeMI (412577) | about 4 years ago | (#33610938)

Good question, I don't know. I'll have to check out one of those devices, I can't (when first thinking about it) believe they would have managed to strip out all of the Google search stuff.

Re:FUD (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 years ago | (#33610420)

Do you have any more information about 4)? I'd love to read more about that, since I was actually hoping Skyhook support would be integrated additionally for more accurate data...

Re:FUD (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 4 years ago | (#33610450)

Don't know much about 4) per se but pertaining to your desire:

Layar []

Just quickly scanned, not sure if it's exactly what you're looking for...

Re:FUD (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 years ago | (#33610526)

Thanks, I've been using that app for a long time... cool that they're using Skyhook in addition now though.

But doesn't that show that Google isn't doing anything to stop the use of Skyhook in its OS? Layar works fine... I'm sure other apps would too.

Re:FUD (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 4 years ago | (#33610654)

But doesn't that show that Google isn't doing anything to stop the use of Skyhook in its OS? Layar works fine... I'm sure other apps would too.

That's my take on it. Just because they don't integrate Skyhook into the phone doesn't mean Skyhook can't
get in on the Android Marketplace. I'm reserving judgment for now but as far as I'm concerned TFA was basically
a Skyhook PR + editorial comment in favor of Skyhook. I've no doubt Google (*cough* Eric Schmidt) is capable
of dirty, say evil, business practices but just because another company says so doesn't make it so.

Re:FUD (3, Interesting)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | about 4 years ago | (#33610750)

Read the summary at least :)

OEMs are not allowed to ship other location products, or they lose their access to Google services, the market, etc. So the operating system itself is really open, but the ecosystem around it is "open as long as you do what we tell you to do".

Re:FUD (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 years ago | (#33610850)

That's more of a technical snag, isn't it? If you want to use Google apps (Maps, Nav etc.), you're going to need to use Google's geolocation service, since there's no easy way to integrate Skyhook's services - and why should there be?

They're not even actively stopping the use of Skyhook... see Layar for Android: []

Uses Skyhook, is available in the Android market, and even ships on some handsets stateside IIRC...

Re:FUD (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33611202)

I'm no Android developer but it should be quite possible to add a supported third-party location service by deriving from the LocationProvider class in Android's location API. My guess is, like most lawsuit-happy companies of its kind, Skyhook's service was non-conforming... an external library that didn't integrate with the provided OS facilities. Apps that used the standard Android location framework and didn't directly rely on the Skyhook lib would have broke. Instead of fixing the issue like any normal developer would, Skyhook felt entitled to destroy the quality of other apps -- and by association, Android itself -- just as long as its own location service worked correctly. But that's only my guess.

Re:FUD (1)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | about 4 years ago | (#33611462)

Look, it's not about "actively stopping the use of Skyhook", no-one is claiming that! What end users can do is just not relevant. This is all about OEMs and what they are allowed to do: Skyhook is saying that Google now prevents OEMs from using a service that competes with Google if they want to be part of the ecosystem.

Google Maps has no technical reason to require exactly the Google location implementation, anything that provides the same API should do. But even if you were right, Google isn't just demanding their location services for Maps to work: According to Skyhook OEMs that do not use Google location services cannot be Android compatible, meaning no Android market, no gmail or anything in the ecosystem for them.

I have no idea if Skyhook is telling the truth -- they could be omitting details like not being able to implement a good replacement for the Google location component. But if they are mostly correct, I think this is a big deal -- it shows that openness only goes so far if you are an OEM... when you start competing with Google, you may get kicked out. This isn't inherently bad, but good to know.

Re:FUD (2, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 4 years ago | (#33610582)

Yes, this is a case in which I'm willing to believe Google acted anticompetitively and with monopolistic intent, but I would like to see all the facts first. The charges Skyhook lodges are serious, and unlike the charge over search engine results, completely believable. But I still want to have more data on what actually happened before I decide on this one.

Fragmentation or bloat (3, Interesting)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | about 4 years ago | (#33610330)

So whats the solution? Android has to either support everything in one standard or have multiple standards to encompass everyone's tech? Basically this would create a bloated (and more expensive) OS or more Android fragmentation (your device does geo-location this way with these results while mine does it another way with other results).

I guess it's a thin line between between closed and controlled vs open and free. As more and more of these headaches (lawsuits, fragmentation) crop up for Google/Android we find more and more reasons why Steve Jobs has a point in everything he says is a benefit in his iOS closed model.

Re:Fragmentation or bloat (1)

viperblades (576174) | about 4 years ago | (#33610432)

Its more like a very thick line between 'if you want to use Google(tm) apps on your phone it needs to be an approved system so it doesn't tarnish our name' and 'if you don't use our apps you can do anything'.

Considering the phone manufacturers are getting the phone apps for near free prices I think thats a good deal personally.

Re:Fragmentation or bloat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610880)

While there are benefits to a closed OS, I wholeheartedly disagree with Apple's tactics. You don't have to be an Orwellian-like Nazi to control your platform. If Jobs just simply didn't call people stupid for wanting what they want Apple would attract a more mature audience. Until then(which will be never) he will be happy with the standard lemming that will extol unlimited praises of every shiny fruit themed product(fail or not) to ever be produced.

Well.. (0, Redundant)

jav1231 (539129) | about 4 years ago | (#33610338)

Turf war or no, Google seems to be marching intently away from it's motto, as has been stated. How long can anyone there (Sergey?) continue to stay who might still cling to this motto? It's very tempting, though it would mean moving all of my mail, abandoning feedburner, and no longer using analytics, to leave Google. OTOH, I can't bring myself to use Bing...the other dark meat. :|

Me too! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610350)

Altavista: "We have an engine that can search the web"
Google: "Me too!"

Hotmail: "We give you free email accounts!"
Google: "Me too!"

Streetmap/Multimap: "We have free online mapping services to plan your routes with"
Google: "Me too!"

Skype: "We give you VOIP anywhere!"
Google: "Me too!"

Apple: "We have a new touch-based smartphone"
Google: "Me too!"

...and so on and so on. I really, really have never seen why Google gets such a free ride here. They've done StreetView which is innovative and couldn't have been done without vast resources...that's pretty much the end of anything unique they've ever managed. Their behaviour with Skyhook here is just yet another example of me too'ism.

Re:Me too! (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 years ago | (#33610444)

The thing is, they took all those things and did them better than everyone else. Might just be a matter of taste, but in every one of those examples (except maybe Street View, which I find is completely unneeded), I prefer the Google service over the competitor you mentioned...

Yes, I'm an absolute Google fanboy. I like getting cool stuff for free (especially when you can't buy it anyway) ;)

Re:Me too! (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 4 years ago | (#33610542)

Street View: really useful for avoiding comments like "I was running right on time for the job interview, but I couldn't find your office and spent a half an hour wandering around the block"

Re:Me too! (2, Insightful)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 4 years ago | (#33610550)

No, you are getting 'stuff' for selling your private information. Nothing in the corporate world is free...

Yes, I'm an absolute Google fanboy. I like getting cool stuff for free (especially when you can't buy it anyway) ;)

Re:Me too! (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 years ago | (#33610630)

Yup, and I'm OK with it ;)

Re:Me too! (1)

somersault (912633) | about 4 years ago | (#33610764)

I was thinking the same thing. Except that I found Streetview useful the other day when trying to find a restaurant before I set out for real.

"Me too, but better!" is exactly how things should be. Competition is always good.

Re:Me too! (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about 4 years ago | (#33610794)

erm, point to any of those companies you are implying are "done over" and say they haven't done the same to other companies... except alta vista, that's not even worth the effort.

Re:Me too! (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 4 years ago | (#33611016)

Google also did search better than AltaVista and, in fact, everyone else. Sure, now you have Bing, but Bing would never have existed if Microsoft hadn't have been forced to compete with Google.

Google also pretty much drove Web 2.0 innovations such as AJAX That might sound silly (since it was Microsoft, not Google, who invented AJAX), but until Google adopted it for its sites like Google Maps and Gmail, very few websites were using it, and those that were lacked the mastery Google had of the technology.

Furthermore, Google implemented all of these technologies using open source and open standards, unlike the other companies you mention, which locked everything up tight. I certainly give them kudos for doing that.

You may not like Google, but they're certainly of the most influential driving forces on the Web today. Give credit where credit is due.

force (v.) - use of physical power to compel (2, Interesting)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33610352)

to force device manufacturers to use its technology rather than that of Skyhook, to terminate contractual obligations with Skyhook, and to otherwise force device manufacturers

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Re:force (v.) - use of physical power to compel (1)

minsk (805035) | about 4 years ago | (#33610530)

Google must have "forced" Apple to drop Skyhook as well. Or maybe there were reasons to develop a competitor, rather than continue to deal with Skyhook. Like Apple did [] .

Seriously, when did "Oh no, we're being forced to compete! Let's sue everyone!" become an acceptable business plan?

Re:force (v.) - use of physical power to compel (2, Funny)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33610732)

Seriously, when did "Oh no, we're being forced to compete! Let's sue everyone!" become an acceptable business plan?

SCO has a patent as well as a trademark on that. One more lawsuit coming soon...

If only words could have more than one meaning... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610896)

Force: 4: power to influence, affect, or control; efficacious power. 6: persuasive power; power to convince

Re:force (v.) - use of physical power to compel (1)

noidentity (188756) | about 4 years ago | (#33610942)

Didn't you read the press re.. story? Their Skyhook product is superior! Nobody would use anything else unless forced.

Re:force (v.) - use of physical power to compel (1)

MrLint (519792) | about 4 years ago | (#33610540)

Are you looking for people to use coerce?

Re:force (v.) - use of physical power to compel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610736)

1. trans. To use violence to; to violate, ravish (a woman).
*2. To press hard upon (in battle). Obs.
3. a. To constrain by force (whether physical or moral); to compel; to overcome the resistance of. to force (one's) hand: to compel one to act prematurely or to adopt a policy he dislikes. Cf. Fr. forcer la main à quelqu'un.
b. To put a strained sense upon (words). Also, to force (words) into a sense.
c. Card-playing, esp. in Whist. (a) To compel (a player) to trump a trick, by leading a card of a suit of which he has none; (b) To make (a player) play so as to show the strength of his hand; (c) To cause a player to play (a certain card) by leading one which must have the effect of drawing it out.
d. intr. Austral. and N.Z. Of a sheep-dog: to move sheep. Cf. FORCE n.1 7e.
4. a. To compel, constrain, or oblige (a person, oneself, etc.) to do a thing (*sometimes with to omitted); to bring (things), to drive (a person, etc.) to or into (a course of action, a condition).
b. pass. (of a thing) to be forced to be, etc.: to be of necessity. Now colloq. or vulgar.
*c. ellipt. (= force to believe) To convince. Obs.
5. a. To urge, compel to violent effort; *to exert (one's strength) to the utmost. spec. in Cricket.
  to force the pace or the running (in a race): to adopt, and thus force one's competitors to adopt, a rate of speed likely to harass them and improve one's own chance of winning. to force the bidding: at a sale by auction, to run the price up rapidly. to force one's voice: to attempt notes beyond the natural compass. to force the game in Cricket: Of a batsman: To run some risks in order to increase the rate of scoring, and so give one's side a better chance of winning a game.
*b. refl. and intr. To do one's utmost endeavour, strive. Obs.
6. To overpower by force. a. To make a forcible entry into; to take by force, to storm (a stronghold); to board (a ship). Also, To effect a passage through (mountains, a river, an enemy's lines) by force.
b. To break open (a gate, etc.); to break (a lock); *to pierce (armour). Also to force open.
*c. To compel to give way or yield; to overpower (troops, a guard). Obs.
7. a. To drive by force, propel against resistance, impel. Chiefly const. with prep., or with advbs.
b. to force down: to compel (an aircraft) to land.
8. a. intr. To make one's way by force. Also with in, out, up. Now rare.
b. Real Tennis. To use the force stroke (see prec. 15b).
9. trans. a. To press, put, or impose (something) forcibly on, upon (a person), and simply. Also, to force (a person) on, upon (something): to oblige to resort to.
*b. To lay stress upon, press home, urge. Obs. Also, To enforce (a law, etc.).
c. In Conjuring with cards (see quot. 1888).
10. To bring about, effect, or produce by force or effort; to bring about of necessity, or as a necessary result. Also, to force a passage, one's way. lit. and fig.
11. To obtain or take by force; to win by violence; to draw forth (lit. and fig.) as a necessary consequence; to extort, elicit. Also, to force away, out.
12. To hasten by artificial means the maturity of (plants, fruit, etc.). Also intr. for refl.
II. To give, add, have force.
*13. a. To give force or strength to; to strengthen, reinforce; also, to fortify, garrison (a place), to man (fortifications). Obs.
*b. To fine (wine) by a short process. Obs.
*14. Chiefly in negative sentences: a. (a) trans. To attach force or importance to; to care for, regard; often with a strengthening phrase, as a bean, a pin, a straw. Obs.
*(b) with a sentence as obj. Obs.
*(c) with inf. as obj. To care to, think it of consequence, or worth while to. Also, to hesitate, scruple. Obs.
*b. intr. To trouble oneself, be concerned, care. Const. for, of, rarely on. Obs.
*15. impers. or quasi-impers. To be of force, importance, or weight; to matter, signify. Obs.

Re:force (v.) - use of physical power to compel (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 4 years ago | (#33611358)

to force device manufacturers to use its technology rather than that of Skyhook, to terminate contractual obligations with Skyhook, and to otherwise force device manufacturers

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

You're right, they should have used the word "induce."

iirc, it's illegal in the United States to intentionally induce someone to do something that would unknowingly violate the terms of a contract.

(Which makes me wonder why Blizzard didn't bring that up in their suit against MMOGlider.)

Scope Creep (2, Insightful)

Ipeunipig (934414) | about 4 years ago | (#33610376)

"effectively gives Google the ability to arbitrarily deem any software, feature or function 'non-compatible.'".

How is this different from what other companies do in their 'App Approval' process? It seems to me that this lawsuit may cross into other areas if Google is found guilty.

Scope Creep applies in more areas than software development!

Re:Scope Creep (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 4 years ago | (#33610600)

I agree with you in general, but I believe Google tripped up here when they claimed it was an 'open' platform, but structured like a closed system for certain core apps. Folks like Apple never claimed it was open and never promised such. I believe that's where Skyhook's beef is.

Re:Scope Creep (2, Insightful)

just_another_sean (919159) | about 4 years ago | (#33610752)

The core OS is open, the Android Market and the Google Apps are not. Just because most of the big
phone manufacturers seem too lazy to try and compete with Google's complete stack doesn't preclude
the fact that they are welcome to take the Android OS, do whatever they want to it short of using
the Google name and apps, and sell that instead. You can build on OS on Darwin and give it away or
sell it but you can't call it Mac X or Apple This. That doesn't make Darwin any less open.

Re:Scope Creep (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 4 years ago | (#33610926)

Yes but the issue is larger than just open or closed. Skyhook is claiming that Google doesn't provide them equal footing to peddle their services with handset vendors. The gist from the article indicated that perhaps the handset vendors are receiving OS distributions from Google first. The handset vendors then develop their platforms around Google's offerings before 3rd party vendors like Skyhook were given an opportunity to develop, package, and sell a service to a handset maker before they are already invested in the Google solution.

Apple avoids this by banning apps that compete with core functionality while leaving 3rd party apps alone when competing against each other. Google has no such protection since they claim everything is open.

Re:Scope Creep (1)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | about 4 years ago | (#33610854)

It is an open platform. You can install third-party apps with no problem on regular android (I don't know about special flavors that the phone manufacturers have put out). You just can't install them through the Android Market. I trust the apps in the Android Market because Google has signed off on them. But, if I install a third-party app that I got off the web, then I make sure I research it to make sure it isn't malware. Google does not have a responsibility to allow all apps to be on their market. It would make the Android Market kinda useless if they did. But just because Google's Android Market is not "open", does not mean the Android OS itself is not open.

it is called platform certification (3, Interesting)

Vectormatic (1759674) | about 4 years ago | (#33610512)

and everyone does it, intel requires you to use a certain combo of intel chips in your laptop before you can slap a 'centrino' (or whatever 'ino is the flavor of the day) on it, AMD does the same, MS undoubtedly has some requirements before you can put a big shiney 'designed for windows XX' sticker on anything..

Since the base of android is supposed to be open source, everyone should be free to take that, build a phone OS on it, use skyhook, but google has every right to stop you from using the android name on that device

sure, it goes against the idea that android is supposedly completely free/open, but google has a right to protect their platform, and the experience on that platform

Re:it is called platform certification (3, Interesting)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | about 4 years ago | (#33610958)

sure, it goes against the idea that android is supposedly completely free/open, but google has a right to protect their platform, and the experience on that platform

This, I believe, is the only problem here -- Apple does everything exactly like Google with the exception that they don't claim to be "open". Likewise Intel doesn't say Centrino is about choice in anyway. Google does, according to Daring Fireball Vic Gundotra says "If you believe in openness, if you believe in choice, if you believe in innovation from everyone, then welcome to Android". Now maybe he meant Android the base operating system, but I would have thought he meant the Android ecosystem -- OS, software, services, market...

I think what you said is 100% true: Google has every right to stop you from using the Android name if you do anything Google doesn't like. But the fact remains, calling that an open system is dishonest.

In this particular case I can't accept that they are just protecting the integrity of the platform: do you think Google would have done this if location wasn't a Google service? Would Google really have forced every manufacturer to use e.g. Skyhook if they thought Skyhook was really good?

talk about unfair, now THIS is unfair (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33610586)

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Re:talk about unfair, now THIS is unfair (1)

kiddygrinder (605598) | about 4 years ago | (#33610828)

where's -1 the too long but ultimately brutality pointless

Re:talk about unfair, now THIS is unfair (0, Offtopic)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 4 years ago | (#33611406)

where's -1 the too long but ultimately brutality pointless

Shouldn't that be -1: Offtopic? It really isn't related to what we're talking about.

Pretty simple (4, Interesting)

augustz (18082) | about 4 years ago | (#33610818)

This is posted in the "Know your rights" section.

A couple of quick items:

- Android is released under the Apache license. So skyhook and any handset manufacturer, if they don't like the direction google is taking the platform, can do whatever they want to the software. This is the definition of open source.

- Conversely, open source doesn't mean skyhook can force a developer to do something. Lots of business who want to make money by inclusion in a project get upset when open source projects say no. See Reiser or any other open source bug tracker.

- On top of the apache licensed Android, Google provides a set of pretty popular apps (Google Apps). Most but not all manufacturers use those apps. My guess is that if you pick up these apps, then that is where google is saying you have to use their location based service. So far these apps are good enough people generally use them, but eventually Microsoft or some other big player will pay enough $$ to a manufacturer that google maps / google search etc will go away on some handsets.

- Google also offers the Android Market, another natural place of control. Many OS Distro's use marketplaces, update channels etc to monetize their platform. This also obviously creates lock-in.

- Almost every open source project doesn't let you take their brand with your changes. So if you want to make lots of changes you probably can't call your OS "Android" vs Sense or MotoBlur. This also is common to Mozilla, Redhat etc etc. Mozilla was really picky about this (see Iceweasel).

- Skyhook is suing Google for violating it's patents on doing location. This includes ""Server for Updating Location Beacon Database". Reading these patents will make you wish software patents were toned down a bit I think.

- Skyhook is itself not an open source contribution to the handset, but apparently a pretty costly proprietary app on top of the handset with big royalties and patents with no patent pledges. In other words, if someone tries to do location service and to give it away for free, prepare to be sued by Skyhook.

- Apple dropped Skyhook from the iphone 4 I believe? Be interesting to know why given they had been a customer and skyhook claims to have the best tech.

- Open source being "nice". Big business in open source seem to still plan on using the layers above to fight for $.

So some shades of grey in this :) Be interesting to see how the case evolves.

What if Google went the other way? (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 4 years ago | (#33610826)

What if Google bowed to enabling Skyhook? Wouldn't Skyhook then start a law suit over Google's potential for piggy-backing Skyhook's data with Google's? The way I see it, Skyhook would complain either way.

Google is interested, of course, in using their services because they know they can rely on their services and their own motivations. For Google to set up an agreement with Skyhook or to have service providers or handset makers do that only serves Skyhook's interests and would likely cost everyone else more.

I would like to see evidence to support Skyhook's claims of Google "forcing" android phone makers to use Google's services.

"Deemed non-compatible"? (1)

pedantic bore (740196) | about 4 years ago | (#33611088)

If this is true, then it is deeply disturbing and a symptom of a serious problem in the control that companies can have over other companies in the current legislative environment.

Back in the old days, companies such as Microsoft couldn't simply deem that competing applications were "non-compatible"--they had to actually go to the effort of making sure that Windows would hobble them. (Remember "Windows isn't done until Lotus won't run"?)

Did anybody read that as SkyNet? (1)

mattwrock (1630159) | about 4 years ago | (#33611300)

When I read that, I thought our overloads have graciously decided not to nuke us, but to sue our "toy" manufacturers. Now we will die of boredom!

Next thing ya know... (1)

Edward Teach (11577) | about 4 years ago | (#33611326)

Microsoft will be suing Google because Android needs a GMail account to utilize some of its features. God, I can't imagine using Hotmail again. BTW, I'm not so sure about Google's location service. Either I've secretly discovered warp drive or something is screwy. On many occasions, my location randomly bounces from the middle of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

It's only partially about Android being "open" (3, Informative)

papa_lizard (1690036) | about 4 years ago | (#33611372)

If you had read the actual jury demand (oh wait, this is Slashdot, nevermind), you would've realized it's not just about Android being sold as "Open". The main things that will probably get Google fried are:
  1. 1. Skyhook had a contract with Motorola to include Skyhook's technology in their handsets. When Google found out, they forced Motorola to breach their contract and replace Skyhook's technology with Google's.
  2. 2. Skyhook had a contract with a company (called "Company X" in the demand) to include Skyhook's technology in their handsets. These handsets, with Skyhook's technology integrated, passed the Android certification tests put forth by Google. Then Google discovered that the handsets weren't using Google's location services, and forced Company X to remove the Skyhook tech or face losing the "Android" certification. (Again, forcing another breach of contract)

As a result of Google forcing Skyhook's partners to breach their contracts, Skyhook lost millions of dollars of licensing revenue and is seeking reparation.

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