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Finding Fault With the Low, Low Price of Android

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the armchair-quarterbacks-and-the-forces-of-envy dept.

Android 364

bonch writes "Google's accusation of patent abuse toward its competitors has generated many responses, some of which have asked whether Android's free price is anti-competitive. Drawing comparisons to Microsoft's antitrust trial, in which they were accused of giving away Internet Explorer to drive competitors out of the browser market, Thurrott argues that Google's rivals are 'leveling the playing field' through patent fees by removing an artificial price advantage funded by monopoly search revenues. 'One could argue that Google is using its dominance in search advertising to unfairly gain entry into another market by giving that new product, Android, away for free. Does this remind you of any famous antitrust case?'"

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This is why we can't have anything nice (4, Interesting)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991904)

Its free. Lets be happy about it.

Oh noes, its ruining my ability to sell stuff. Lets attack their patents to ruin it. Its got nothing to do with Microsoft's antitrust trial - that was something bundled with a sold product - this is something free which Google is using to sell something else (apps for example). Its kinda like how certain open source stuff works.

Re:This is why we can't have anything nice (5, Insightful)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992000)

The analogy is flawed, they can't compare Android to IE. IE was shipped with WinOS. WinOS was the more or less the only used OS out there ( I mean for the general population) , that's why it was anti-competitive to give for free ( or why it was anti-competitive by MS ). Now the case with Android is that it does not enjoy a monopoly, the hardware is diverse, and on the same hardware provider ( Like HTC for example) is offering different OS. If they want to offer it for free then it's not the Open Handset Alliance's problem, if others want to out compete Android, then they must offer something distinguished so that people will consider paying for it. It is the same more or less with Linux on the desktop.

Re:This is why we can't have anything nice (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992104)

I'm a 110% Apple fanboi, and completely agree with this. Google has every right to ship Android for free. It's garbage (imo), but still their right in every way.

Re:This is why we can't have anything nice (4, Informative)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992170)

The price of Internet Explorer was never the real issue. What created anti-trust problems for Microsoft was telling computer manufacturers that they couldn't install any other browser on the computers they sold.

Re:This is why we can't have anything nice (2)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992252)

I'd have to look it up to be certain (and who has time for that?), but I think the main complaint is that they intentionally designed the browser to be inseparable from the OS's GUI. So not only was it bundled with Windows, it was also impossible to remove. But in those days I'm sure they didn't think twice about strong-arming manufacturers to keep other browsers out as well.

Re:This is why we can't have anything nice (4, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992514)

I'd have to look it up to be certain (and who has time for that?), but I think the main complaint is that they intentionally designed the browser to be inseparable from the OS's GUI. So not only was it bundled with Windows, it was also impossible to remove. But in those days I'm sure they didn't think twice about strong-arming manufacturers to keep other browsers out as well.

IIRC correctly there was additionally the complaint that Microsoft designed Windows to crash Netscape.

Basically there were all sorts of different ways Microsoft was (rightly) accused of anti-competitive behaviors. Pick and choose your favorite.

Re:This is why we can't have anything nice (5, Insightful)

unrtst (777550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992212)

Agreed, but more importantly (IMO), they aren't bundling Android with their "monopoly" produce of search.

Microsoft didn't just give IE away for free... they took their dominant position of OS distribution, and bundled in a free-as-in-beer IE, AND (initially) did not provide any way to remove it. They also provided major "incentives" (read; deterrents) to hardware distributors to encourage them to only ship Windows.

Google is not providing any additional incentives to handset makers who use Android. And many of those (ex. HTC) make just as many handsets that run other OS's, and push/market them equally. When Dell started selling some boxes with linux on them, it was only a couple, and they were underpowered; ditto for their no-os choices; and the price difference was not the equal of the cost of a Windows license.

Google's offering is also free-as-in-freedom, which IE was not. You can argue about v3.0 if you like, but it's not officially in distribution yet, and the source to IE was never free.

Also, when you go to google.com, you don't have to use Andoid, and it's not pushed on you either. A more comparative example - when a mobile user goes to google.com, they can still use the site just as well as if they came from Andoid. When a Netscape user went to Windows Update, it simply did not work - and still does not work - it requires IE.

Can some similarities be drawn? Yes. Fortunately, by doing so, it should be obvious that they are actually making the right decisions with how to distribute this product, as opposed to the many anti-competitive choices that Microsoft made.

Re:This is why we can't have anything nice (0)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992496)

But what he is arguing (whether right or wrong, I see Nichols or Thurott I instantly think "troll" so take it for what its worth) is that it isn't really free as Google is using the funds from one endeavor (search) to give away a second product (Android) that ties into the first and thus gives them more of a monopoly.

And one could argue that thanks to CCC (Cheapo Chinese Crap) that the only real competition android has is iOS and how long can Apple compete with free? At most carriers I'm seeing Smart phones handed out like candy bars, all running Android. if you want iOS it'll cost you. Sure apple sells on the hip factor now, but as the economy continues to sour how long will they be able to compete against free?

I personally think Google should have to put their money where their mouth is and if they want to give android for free? Then they should have to stand behind the product and indemnify their customers. MSFT does this, I'm sure Apple stands behind their iPhone. let Google take responsibility for their product instead of passing on the costs of litigation to the OEMs.

Re:This is why we can't have anything nice (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992180)

It's not free. Android needs hardware to run on. In most cases, hardware makers are reluctant to create upgrades for the hardware they sell because it gives them less incentive to buy the next model they want to sell. With the exception of a fairly small, though busy community, most people keep their phone's software as-is unless an OTA update comes down.

This is not at ALL the same as bundling a browser with the OS. The only ones who see a benefit from "free" is the phone makers and with all the hacking and modding going on, I am sure the carriers are a little annoyed with Android so free is no benefit to them. And before anyone says "it makes the phones cheaper" that's bullshit. It just means the manufacturers get more profit because unless you are buying a close-out model of an android phone, you are buy an expensive phone.

Re:This is why we can't have anything nice (2)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992340)

While I agree that it doesn't make the phones cheaper, and that it's not in the hardware maker's best interest to allow upgrades (for the reasons you mentioned, as well as the added support required by users who have problems with the upgrade), Android itself is still free. You can use it on multiple platforms (architectures), and no one's forcing you to "hook it up" to Google. You can download the source code, you can use it without paying anyone, and you don't have to sign up for anything in order to do so. That means it's free.

You can make the argument that it ends up costing the end user who buys a smartphone, but that's a discussion about the smartphone market. Android is software, and it's free.

Re:This is why we can't have anything nice (0)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992408)

...Its got nothing to do with Microsoft's antitrust trial - that was something bundled with a sold product

this is something free which Google is using to sell something else (apps for example).

Uhhh....yeah. Care to explain again how these two are different, because one could easily argue that Microsoft "gave" a product away for free (IE)...using it to sell something else (the rest of the OS, for example)...How do you know(i.e. can you prove) people didn't buy Microsoft OS because of IE?

Sorry, but you're dancing a fine line with your comparison there, IMHO...

At least one big difference (1)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991908)

Android is open source.

Re:At least one big difference (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36991974)

Open? Show me the source for Android V3.0.

Re:At least one big difference (2)

Cwix (1671282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992034)

It hasnt been released yet, but they claim to have plans to release it.

http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/366604/google-we-ll-open-source-android-3-0-when-its-ready [pcpro.co.uk]

you know, honycomb hit 3.2 already (2)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992058)

and they're still stalling 3.0 source release.

Re:At least one big difference (1)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992234)

It is fair enough that 3.0 and up has not been open sourced, however the number of devices with honeycomb being sold is very small, and google has stated they intend on releasing the source code. If they don't release the source, I agree it will cease to be open source, however it isn't the only difference from IE. And the insinuation that the anti-competitive practices of Microsoft with respect to IE4 are analogous to Google's business practices with respect to Android are absurd. Aside from the versions of Android on the vast majority of devices being open source, Android entered into the mobile market as the underdog, and they still face serious competition from more than one company.

Re:At least one big difference (1)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992042)

Not yet, but after this it may be... It might be the only way to avoid charges of dumping.

Re:At least one big difference (3, Insightful)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992400)

This could actually make a dangerous precedent. If you give out free (as-in-beer) software, you're accused of dumping? So Flash, Acrobat Reader, anti-virus software, Quicktime, Paint.Net, and the Opera browser are all guilty? I really hope that if someone actually makes such a case, it'd be shot down instantly.

Re:At least one big difference (3, Insightful)

throbber (72924) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992044)

Is it? I've been trying to find a recent source release for Android .....

I think the best you can say is that Android *was* open source.

Re:At least one big difference (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992208)

What the fuck delusional world do you live in? One where mobile phones disappeared and tablets took over? Android is completely open source, FOR PHONE DEVELOPMENT. Android isn't versioned like the Linux kernel is, where 3.0 > 2.0. Or did you think that 2.x development was abandoned?

Re:At least one big difference (1)

kaiser423 (828989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992430)

Google hasn't released what they've considered "official" sources for Honeycomb, but lots of the code shipping on tablets, etc is out there.

http://support.asus.com/Download.aspx?SLanguage=en&m=Eee+Pad+Transformer+TF101&p=20&s=16 [asus.com]

Here's the Honeycomb branch of the Xoom kernel: http://android.git.kernel.org/?p=kernel/tegra.git;a=shortlog;h=refs/heads/android-tegra-2.6.36-honeycomb-mr1 [kernel.org]

and so on. Yea, it's not open source in the bazaar-style development model, but Google puts the sources out in reasonable timeframes.

open source attack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36991914)

Well, then Linux certainly has an advantage, and since companies like
Novell and canonical are so huge, they are obviously doing the same thing against windows... right?

Re:open source attack (4, Insightful)

icannotthinkofaname (1480543) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991948)

Agreed. I'll believe these claims about Android being anti-competitive when those same accusers also declare intention to sue entities like Canonical, who also give away superior software for free on a regular basis.

Canonical is not American (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992258)

Canonical is headquartered in Great Britain, and I assume it has most of its assets there. In that case, it'd be slightly harder to sue Canonical on U.S. competition law grounds than, say, Red Hat.

Re:open source attack (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992532)

Agreed. I'll believe these claims about Android being anti-competitive when those same accusers also declare intention to sue entities like Canonical, who also give away superior software for free on a regular basis.

Well, given the huge percentage of the desktop computer market Ubuntu's managed to corner, that should happen any day now. /sarcasm

Giving away, not bundling (4, Insightful)

Superken7 (893292) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991920)

I assume that the author quoted in the summary refers to Internet Explorer, which was bundled and forced down the user's throats, as you could not even uninstall it or the Operating System would stop working.

How can this be compared to Android, which is just an open source project? CHOICE remains, as far as I know.

Re:Giving away, not bundling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36991964)

Thing was when MS was putting it on all of their OS's the tech crowd was screaming for it. There was a reason for that. It was 'free' and *was* the best browser out there compared to the competition who were charging 50-100 dollars a copy. In many ways MS created the market for free browsers. No one would pay for it now.

I had no problem with it being there. Who cares it was like 40 meg. When drives were 1-2 gig no one really cared. It was only a very narrow portion of the tech crowd who had a problem with it. The rest of it liked not having to spend 2-4 hours downloading IE when it was just there...

Re:Giving away, not bundling (1)

jthill (303417) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992458)

There's reasons monopolization of the market is felony. Giving away free products isn't one of the bad parts.

Re:Giving away, not bundling (-1)

Eric Freyhart (752088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992076)

Hmm. Ok, you are right. So lets make Google de-install the HTML rendering engine from Chrome OS. OH! They can't? Well guess what....

Microsoft created something called "Active Desktop". A browser with an underlining OS. What is Chrome? Same thing. MS was WAY ahead of the curve. But people in the IT community were too closed-minded to see it. And now we no longer have Active Desktop, but we sure have Chrome OS going down our throats as "Something New".

Re:Giving away, not bundling (2)

unrtst (777550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992322)

Chrome is an entirely different case, and you would have a very valid point if they had a majority position they could abuse. MS abused their (near) monopoly position in more ways than just including IE, but that was certainly one of them.

Also, you CAN replace the default browser on Android with another browser. There was never a case for removing the HTML rendering engine that Windows used internally for stuff like their help system and file browser... the problem had multiple parts which made it bad:
* you couldn't remove IE the browser
* It was forced on the user by abuse of their monopoly position in OS's
* they made it difficult to switch default browsers
* some OS tasks still rely on the IE browser (ex. windows upgrade)

I don't know if you can remove the browser component from Android, but the rest of those points do not exist on Android. And, you get free-as-in-speech browser and OS as well, so you can remove or modify it yourself (and handset manufacturers do modify it - something Microsoft did not allow distributors to do to Windows).

Unlikely (2)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992124)

It would seem to be a new legal theory regarding the nature of leveraging a monopoly. Presumably the notion is that the money earned from the monopoly is the leverage, not the monopoly per se. However, last I checked, Google doesn't have a monopoly on search.

If this were to pass the smell test, I imagine any sufficiently large company that has ever run a loss leader would be guilty.

Note I'm not a lawyer, I just like giving bad advice in general.

Re:Exactly (3, Informative)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992154)

I don't think the article or summary writer actually know how anti-trust works. IE being free wasn't what caused the anti-trust case, it was the fact it was bundled to a product that was already considered a very strong monopoly in the market.

About the only thing that could make Android an anti-trust case is if advertisers were forced to use an android phone to create and administer their ads on Google's services.

Bundling Wasn't The Reason For The Trial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992244)

It was the leveraging of their OS monopoly to force OEMs to not include Netscape - not bundling Internet Explorer.

This is the essential point Microsoft shills in the media have been trying to rewrite in the minds of the public for years now.

Does Android un-install competitor products? (1)

knarfling (735361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992300)

Another thing that caused the anti-trust case was the fact that IE not only checked to see if it was the default browser, it checked to see if it was the only browser. In the early days, it would even check for Netscape and un-install it if it found that it was installed.

So does Android install itself on an iPhone, and un-install IOS?

Android is an OS, not an application. A better comparison would be computers with the OS pre-installed. Shouldn't MS, Apple, Sun, IBM and HP joined forces and sued Commadore and Atari for providing a free OS and attempting to drive each of them out of the market by providing a free OS that was built into the hardware without providing an alternative OS?

Re:Does Android un-install competitor products? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992318)

Internet Explorer never uninstalled Netscape, you lying cocksucker.

Re:Does Android un-install competitor products? (1)

knarfling (735361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992416)

Okay, I was slightly mistaken. If you installed Netscape first and then installed IE, IE would delete Netscape files making Netscape unusable. The effect was the same.

Gee, another Microsoft shill (4, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991930)

Haven't we seen enough of these paid shills over the years to understand their point of view? They get paid money by Microsoft to influence opinion so that Microsoft can sell more stuff. They are corrupted by the money, so it isn't an honest opinion. Therefore, why pay attention?

I suppose some variety from the usual Florian dreck is nice, though.

Re:Gee, another Microsoft shill (4, Funny)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991970)

"win super site . com"
"Supersite for Windows"

Come now, this website sounds very reputable and not at all biased on the side of Microsoft.

Re:Gee, another Microsoft shill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992094)

Ooh careful...someone will accuse you of being anti-Microsoft and lament how Slashdot has "lately" been over-run with anti-Microsoft Zealots.

As we all KNOW, there's no such thing as a paid pro-microsoft shill. Never happens. The term "astroturf" did not originate from the Microsoft of the 90's. Neither did "Steve Barkto" (Ballmer).

Re:Gee, another Microsoft shill, Astroturf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992152)

Yes, Yawn bu good that Mueller didn't get the coin!

Re:Gee, another Microsoft shill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992306)

You've got it all wrong. The submitter works for Apple. All of his posts, without a sole example otherwise, are either in favor of Apple or hating on Google. So are each of his (usually rejected) submissions.

Why this guy isn't banned yet is why /. has been slowly circling the drain.

"Free?" (3, Informative)

BeaverCleaver (673164) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991932)

Isn't this a free-as-in-beer vs. free-as-in-speech argument? I may be way off-beam here but I think Android is open source and IE isn't. So no, this would be nothing like the MS antitrust case.

^^^THIS^^^ (1)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991986)

Who cares what Google's prime business is? The similarities to the MS antitrust case are nonexistent.

Re:^^^THIS^^^ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992088)

The similarities are not nonexistent at all, Google are doing EXACTLY what MS did, they are leveraging there monopoly and revenue stream of one product to push there way into another market by cutting the legs off everyone in that market. Google are doing this for profit from advertising, MS were doing it for profit from Windows.

total bs.. (1)

strobe74 (617588) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992248)

That was never the issue. The issue was that microsoft was using their windows monopoly to push IE so if you bought Windows you got IE no matter if you wanted it or not. Google isn't using a product monopoly to force you to use android.. Completely different. Nobody cared if MS used money to push their software.. they do that all the time and nobody says a word.

Re:^^^THIS^^^ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992264)

But I don't like Internet Explorer.

I do like my Droid.

Re:^^^THIS^^^ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992336)

Nonsense. You can use Google without Droid or Chrome. You can buy phones without Droid. It's not being forced on you at all.

Re:"Free?" (1)

SolemnLord (775377) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992182)

I may be way off-beam here but I think Android is open source and IE isn't.

You [androinica.com] think [itworld.com] very [businessweek.com] wrong. [arstechnica.com]

Re:"Free?" (2)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992352)

The free as in speech part is irrelevant. A company is generally not allowed to sell something at below the cost of production in order to drive its competition our of a market. Doing so is called dumping, and lots of companies have got into trouble for doing it in the past. Typically, the aim of dumping is to raise the price once there is less competition, but I don't think that's a required part of the definition. The difficulty is defining what the wholesale price of software should be. If Google makes money from the apps that are preinstalled on Android, then it's difficult to argue that they're selling it at below cost - they're selling it at a profit, they're just selling it to different people. Google is selling Android to advertisers, Microsoft is selling Windows Phone 7 to ODMs and Apple is selling iOS to hipsters. It's like claiming that TV is anticompetitive behaviour with respect to something like Netflix, because TV channels give away movies.

Obviously not the same (4, Insightful)

hilather (1079603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991934)

While Android may be free (if you exclude the price to use the android market) it is still very different from the Internet Explorer case. Internet Explorer is bundled with the Windows operating system, so its installed already whether you like it or not. Android is a choice by the manufacturer and a relatively cheaper choice then the competition. Manufacturers CHOOSE to use Android, and consumers CHOOSE to use Google for their search queries. Nobody is being forced into anything.

Re:Obviously not the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36991982)

You were never forced to use internet explorer.

Re:Obviously not the same (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992010)

Of course you could.

But then you couldn't visit the windows update website to look at the non-compulsory downloads
And certain programs always opened IE, regardless of what your browser was
And you couldn't uninstall it

Re:Obviously not the same (2)

hilather (1079603) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992378)

You were never forced to use internet explorer.

But then what would I use after installation to download Firefox?

Re:Obviously not the same (1)

knarfling (735361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992404)

Yes you were. At one point IE would delete Netscape files if it found a copy of Netscape. This made Netscape unusable. So you could not have both browsers on the same computer. If you installed IE, you were forced to use it.

Re:Obviously not the same (0)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992276)

Android is a choice by the manufacturer

Windows is in theory a choice by the manufacturer.

and a relatively cheaper choice then the competition.

Not if Microsoft starts flexing its patents.

Terrible (4, Insightful)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991946)

Thank you, Slashdot, for informing me of a website I never, ever, want to read again.

Re:Terrible (3, Funny)

derGoldstein (1494129) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992422)

Wikipedia isn't that bad...

Internet Explorer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36991976)

Free as a hole in your head. It was firstly shit (I know IE8 and 9 are finally passable products, but IE6 was not). It secondly came with Windows whether you wanted it to or not, and could not be removed. You could install other browsers along-side, but everywhere where applications or the system tied into the web, they went through IE.

None of these apply to Android.

Re:Internet Explorer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992166)

IE6 has serious problems, but at the time it was designed, it was competitive. Remember, we just left the netscape era of extensions and hacks. Now google is doing that stuff with chrome.

It's clear to me google wants to be the next Microsoft. What I can't decide is if that's good or bad.

Free can work for some. Consider Mozilla.. their CEO has a private jet and yet their products are free. In that case, Mozilla is subsidized by large companies and some individuals to compete against Microsoft. This is a step farther than Android has gone although Google does fund Mozilla. If google paid all the phone vendors to ship android, then we'd have a real case here. Microsoft kind of did that with IE through windows with discounts and incentives.

Re:Internet Explorer (3, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992368)

IE6 was the version of IE released after the browser wars. IE 2 was useless - it came on my NT4 CD and crashed on startup on a clean install. IE3 was okay. I had it and Netscape installed, and usually preferred IE3. IE4 was bad, but not quite as bad as Netscape Communicator 4, which was just plain horrible. IE5 was what IE4 should have been, and Netscape was dead at this point. IE6 cleaned up IE5 a bit. And then we had a long wait for Mozilla to get into a useable state.

Definitely not the same. (2)

lkcl (517947) | more than 3 years ago | (#36991996)

google is using money that they receive for providing a valuable proprietary service based in part around free software to then fund free software development.

microsoft use the money they receive for providing technologically multi-man-century-backed proprietary products and services to further fund the development of technologically multi-man-century-backed proprietary products and services.

whilst i don't like much of what google is doing (including releasing software under the Apache2 Software License, and including restricting access to free software it develops and then dumping it on people, in bazaar-like "like it or lump it" fashion and in many cases overwhelming unfunded free software communities to pick up the dog's dinner mess that google's developers made in "secret, bazaar-like fashion") it is nothing compared to what microsoft is doing.

you literally cannot compare the two.

Re:Definitely not the same. (2)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992186)

google is using money that they receive for providing a valuable proprietary service based in part around free software to then fund free software development.

...

you literally cannot compare the two.

And even if you could compare the two it is completely irrelevant. Anti-trust law does not take into account where the money comes from only the market factors in its distribution. Just because someone has a product that shits out cash does not mean they're not allowed to build something and give it away for free.

Android and rain (1)

hhedeshian (1343143) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992020)

Lets make collecting rain illegal. Since rain is free, it's anti-competitive. That way, us water utility companies can make more money.

Re:Android and rain (1)

CWCheese (729272) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992120)

ummm... collecting rain is and has been illegal in a lot of places in the US because of senior water rights holders, these have been law since the 1800's when the western states were settled.

Re:Android and rain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992172)

It's been done:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cochabamba_protests_of_2000#Law_2029

Apples and Oranges (2)

TWX (665546) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992026)

Microsoft used their browser to try to lock in the market. They developed client-side CGI that only works in their browser and developed server-side software that works best with IE and uses those proprietary extensions.

Google does not engage in lock-in with Android; non-Android and non-Google browsers work with Google services essentially as well as the browsers they provide, and their browsers (both the Android-integrated browser and Chrome) work on competitors' services. I can use Yahoo or Bing or Mapquest or whatever just as well as I can use Google.

Google provides a lot of services. Internet search, Maps, E-mail, Productivity, Browser, Mobile OS, and the like, but they don't require one to use all. Certainly there's some question as to whether they're in a little hot water for providing links to their maps or other services through their search, but Yahoo and Bing do the same thing for that, so we'll see.

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992114)

Microsoft used their monopoly power to suppress competition in browsers. Now they are using patents, which are by their very definition monopolies, to suppress competition in mobile OS's. So it is not really apples and oranges, but rather historical apples and modern day apples.

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992232)

Google provides a lot of services. Internet search, Maps, E-mail, Productivity, Browser, Mobile OS, and the like, but they don't require one to use all.

But it does integrate them rather closely to one another, and it tie them very closely to Android. If I'm not mistaken, Honeycomb tablets require you to sign on with a Google account before you can even use them. I don't know whether 2.x handsets do the same -- certainly all don't. (Mine required you to sign in with a Motorola account.) Once you have a Google account, though, that makes you more likely to use that same account to access Google services on other devices. Said services are money-makers for Google, through advertising and data mining.

That said ... Google has never been accused of having a monopoly on Web-based services, so you can hardly accuse it of abusing a monopoly here. Can you use other search engines with an Android phone? Yes. I remember hearing one of the U.S. telcos was shipping Android phones with search preconfigured for Bing. Do you have to use Gmail, Google Maps, and other services? No...

And yet Google does make it easy. Which ironically seems to prove the opposite of what Thurrot is claiming. Google isn't giving away anything. It makes money off Android by integrating it with its online services. What difference does it make if a company funds its operations one way versus another way? Google's core business happens to be advertising.

Re:Apples and Oranges (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992246)

Microsoft used their browser to try to lock in the market. They developed client-side CGI that only works in their browser and developed server-side software that works best with IE and uses those proprietary extensions.

Google does not engage in lock-in with Android; non-Android and non-Google browsers work with Google services essentially as well as the browsers they provide, and their browsers (both the Android-integrated browser and Chrome) work on competitors' services. I can use Yahoo or Bing or Mapquest or whatever just as well as I can use Google.

Google provides a lot of services. Internet search, Maps, E-mail, Productivity, Browser, Mobile OS, and the like, but they don't require one to use all. Certainly there's some question as to whether they're in a little hot water for providing links to their maps or other services through their search, but Yahoo and Bing do the same thing for that, so we'll see.

But you can't use any of the "standards-based" HTML5 chrome "apps" in any other HTML5 browser, you can't do half the things on an iPhone with their apps that you can do on Android with their apps, so your examples prove your point by ignoring the actual platform the post was about (phones). Hell, Google gave away Angry Birds to get people to install Chrome. On the flip side, most of Microsoft's mobile apps current work better on the iPhone than WP7. Go figure, huh?

Google and Microsoft are the same thing -- giant companies, doing anything they can to grow their market, with a legal obligation to their shareholders to keep increasing value. Anyone who believes Android being free is for any reason what-so-ever other than increasing market share and driving search is being completely irrational. (And if they are a Google shareholder, I suggest trying to make a legal case against the board of directors and senior management for allowing the company to waste resources like that!)

As a shareholder in both companies (and Apple), I expect all the tech giants are doing their best to drive up my stock's value. Success in one doesn't mean failure in the other, it just means a bigger market and more money for the shareholders.

Re:Apples and Oranges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992444)

They developed client-side CGI

What the heck is client-side CGI? Do you mean server-side includes, or maybe client-side VB scipting?

It's the other way around (1)

bahface (979106) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992040)

Let's not vilify Android because it is free. Let's stop prosecuting companies for competing. Let everyone build the best products they can at the best price they can offer and let the cards fall where they may. In this way consumers will have the most choice and the least expense for the products they choose to purchase. Or... we can continue with the patents malarkey so that no small company will want to innovate and we will end up with an oligarchy of only the biggest companies with the most lawyers. I promise you won't be happy about that.

Aren't they all doing that sort of thing? (1)

Trufagus (1803250) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992052)

Microsoft is still using revenue from Windows and Office to fund its other adventures, including Windows Phone.

Apple's virtual monopoly with iPod/iTunes funded (and led to) the iPhone/iPad/App Store.

Also, I would argue that Google has a clearly stated plan to make money from Android while continuing to give it away: advertising. So, it's not like they are giving it away to achieve dominance and will then start charging for it.

Does this remind you of any famous antitrust case? (1)

microphage (2429016) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992054)

"One could argue that Google is using its dominance in search advertising to unfairly gain entry into another market by giving that new product, Android, away for free. Does this remind you of any famous antitrust case?'"

No, because Google isn't forcing OEMs into signing exclusive contracts that forbid them using other software stacks.

Re:Does this remind you of any famous antitrust ca (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992376)

No, because Google isn't forcing OEMs into signing exclusive contracts that forbid them using other software stacks.

And isn't bundling their phone OS with their search advertising. Between those two things, I can't see how it would remind anyone of the MS antitrust case.

Yes, And... (1, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992060)

> "'One could argue that Google is using its dominance in search advertising to unfairly gain entry into another market by giving that new product, Android, away for free. Does this remind you of any famous antitrust case?'"

Yes.

And Google's competitors are also abusing flaws in the patent system.

Having one set of abuses to correct another set of abuses doesn't mean that Google's competitors are good, or that the patent system is working. They are all opportunistic and sociopathic. You have identified a second kind of distortion which is harmful to free market capitalism. Both flaws should be addressed at the system level, and these companies that are abusing these flaws should all be castigated.

Re:Yes, And... (2)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992100)

What do you mean yes?

How is Google using its search dominance to unfairly gain entry into mobile market? If I want to use Google's services on a symbian, iPhone, WP or whatever it still works. Google isn't forbidding competing mobile manufacturers from using its service, either.

Its using the MONEY it gains from one to fund the other. Big. Deal. Its one company.

Is Google Search a monopoly? (3, Informative)

chrb (1083577) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992066)

This entire proposal rests on the assumption that Google has a monopoly in search. Does it? The latest figures [searchenginewatch.com] show Google Search has 63.6% of the market. What percentage of the desktop market did Microsoft have in the nineties when it decided to tie Windows and IE together (in violation of its 1994 settlement with the DOJ)? I'm sure it was at least 90%.. Apparently it was news [computerworld.com] in Dec 1998 when Windows marketshare dropped below 90% "for the first time"...

There's a big difference between Google's 63% and Microsoft's >90%.

Re:Is Google Search a monopoly? (2)

chrb (1083577) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992082)

Dec 1998

Correction: it was Dec 2008 when Windows market share dropped below 90% for the first time...

Re:Is Google Search a monopoly? (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992304)

Actually the proposal seems to rest on more than that. Internet Explorer is "free" in the sense that every consumer who installs Windows gets a working copy of it for no additional charge. Android is "free" only in the sense that mobile carriers are free to use it, if they wish. I don't recall ever being able to walk into a mobile phone store, plunk down $50 for prepaid service, and walk away with my choice of any Android phone for no additional charge. Last I heard, mobile phone vendors used the Android OS to build mobile phones, which they then sold for hundreds of dollars in a highly competitive marketplace. The parallel to Microsoft, the exclusive provider of IE, giving it directly to end consumers to use for free, hardly seems accurate.

MS's anti-trust lawsuit was bull (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992068)

They didn't have a monopoly. There were alternatives. Alternative hardware, alternative software, alternative browsers, alternatives for everything.

Get rid of BS intellectual property laws which create actual monopoly privileges and let everyone compete in a freer market. Real monopolies are always and have always been creations either directly or indirectly by the State.

Re:MS's anti-trust lawsuit was bull (1)

rrossman2 (844318) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992324)

But they required their browser be located on the desktop and no one else's or the OEMs didn't get the extra $$ from Microsoft.

'anticompetitive' (4, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992138)

In today's world there is only one meaning of the world 'anticompetitive', and it means: didn't pay the politicians enough to be left alone to do business as one sees fit.

So what if somebody is giving away free product? How about a free OS altogether? If they can do this and not go out of business, they should and consumers are the winners, not losers in this game. If the competition can't do anything about it, then it sucks for the competition. If the competition goes out of business because of it, it sucks for them. If eventually the company has to push prices above 0, this will just signal the market that there is a possibility to compete on non-zero price again.

Its not an unfair comparison entirely. (2)

pjr.cc (760528) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992140)

However, what is a MUCH FAIRER comparison is the iphone and the apple app store. Want to use a different app store, sorry, your out of luck (relatively speaking). Andoird's open-ness is actually driving markets (amazon app store being an example of that) where Apple and iphone (or anyone else for that matter) are very actively trying to shut them down.

Its also not fair to say android is free. Open source, yes, but if you want to produce a phone thats useful, you need those (licensed) google apps.

Actually, calling andoird an open-source project itself is even erroneous, google have done a truely terrible job of keeping up with their "WE'RE ANDROID AND WE'RE OPEN SOURCE rah rah rah" moniker - still no AOSP for 3.x and we're up to 3.2 already - if there is one thing that'll make me depart the android shores for something else its that one huge chunk of, lets call it for what it is, lies that really do piss me off.

The reality is, google really have disappointed in the android open source project to the point where it should be called the "android, we'll maybe open-source it if we feel like it, yeah we know we call it open source, but its not really" project. And before anyone comments saying "android isnt licensed under the gpl" or some such a big reminder to you here. Google sold android to the community (as a concept) as an open-source platform - not a "here's some kernel drivers you might need for some irrelevant arm platforms" open source project. They have truly let the community down in this instance and for that they should be thoroughly ashamed. We're also not talking about the google market, maps, etc that google license, those are definitely closed-source and thats googles fair and just choice.

Not Bundled (1)

immakiku (777365) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992158)

As mentioned, android is not bundled with every google search you perform. This is not leveraging the monopoly, merely running a side business. I think ideally google would like to see android generate revenue for them in non-search arenas.

Nonsense (2)

tknd (979052) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992190)

It would only be anti-competitive if Google search was bundled and the ONLY search option provided. But that isn't the case as illustrated with Verizon Samsung Fascinate. [engadget.com]

The phone does not use Google as its default search. And it doesn't utilize Yahoo! either. No, the Fascinate search engine defaults to Bing. Bing is used for the homescreen widget. It is defaulted to in the browser. It is present across the device... and there's no way to choose a different search engine. Like, you know -- Google. When we pressed Verizon reps about this, they let us know in no uncertain terms that the stock engine is Bing without a second choice.

Re:Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992268)

You have no idea how hard it is to rip Google's services out of Android. They are baked into every nook and cranny. Yes, it's possible to do it - but the time and effort involved is tremendous.

You better believe this was intentional on their part. It's their way of making it 'open source' but still having control.

Re:Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992526)

It would only be anti-competitive if Google search was bundled and the ONLY search option provided.

But that would still be exactly the opposite -- that would be using their phone OS dominance to force their way into internet search. Since they have a dominant position in search, but not in mobile OSes, that would be both unhelpful (limiting adoption of their OS) and legal.

Shill (4, Informative)

srh2o (442608) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992204)

Paul Thurott is an unabashed shill. Nothing to see here move along

Google's rivals are free to match Google's price.. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992226)

...and also give Android away free.

Android Price (1)

umask077 (122989) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992238)

Well, the android OS is free. But selling a phone is based on features and price. In theory if you create a superior product people will be it. Apples product is good but I feel my android is far better. It doesn't lock me into ITunes and Apples monopoly. This was a selling point for me. Even with the "buy the phone at a discount with 2 year commitment price" my android, admittedly with small screen, cost me $29.99 USD. My last IPhone was $300 to buy with the same commitment. Quality matters of course, and a lot of people will buy apple because its a brand the like even regardless of the price, I don't see it as being unfair. Apple just needs to learn to compete on the playing field cause lets face it. At this point the real question is "Is Apple hurt by Andriod?" Yes it is, but there prices weren't so bloated they would sell more. Good product plus competitive pricing is the way to keep balance. the phones still cost money, its the OS that's free but I don't see Apple charging money for IOS updates either? You buy the phone, you get the operating system with it. For me who hardly uses the smart phone spending 300 dollars on a phone seems silly. the Android I have fits in my pockets, Find a woman who can say the IPhone fits in theirs. It is not going to happen. the IPhone is a good product but Apple greed gets in the way as is evidenced by Apples behavior toward Samsung as for late but they have a long history of suing everyone that moves. Apple doesn't want to compete on a level playing field, They want the whole market. diversity is good, If everyone has an IPhone Apple wont be very motivated to add new features. Even in recent releasess, the IPhone 3 with a 1.3 megapixel camera, or the IPhone 4 only being 3G they are not being properly motivated. I think andriod helps motivate them to upgrade.

Paul Thurott's credibility on Google is nil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992282)

I'm a regular listener to Paul Thurrott's podcast Windows Weekly on Leo Laporte's TWiT network. I enjoy Thurrott's insights into the Microsoft ecosystem as well as his self-deprecating humour. But Thurrott strikes a sour note whenever the subject of Google comes up - he figuratively foams at the mouth about Google's many alleged crimes against humanity. Equating Android to Microsoft's legal travails concerning Internet Explorer is a new low even for Thurrott. It's more than a bit of a stretch to say that Google has a monopoly on search. That may have been true several years ago, but the strong competition from Microsoft's own Bing has ensured there's no monopoly in search. At the time Microsoft got in trouble for bundling IE, their position in the OS market _was_ a monopoly - well north of 95% market share if memory serves.

Thurrott's irrational rants about Google have become so embarrassing that his own co-host on recent shows, Mary Jo Foley (herself a fan of Microsoft and blogger about it), has felt the need to correct his more egregious mischaracterizations. I'll continue to listen to Windows Weekly, but when the Thurrott whines about Google happen, I ignore them. So should everyone else.

Microsoft antitrust case was silly too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992296)

I'm anti microsoft, but I thought the whole antitrust case there was a load of crock. They had many other business practices that were much worse that went untouched.

How come apple wasn't sued for bundling a browser in their os? What about all the apps that come bundled on iphones or android. Lets sue the company for those! Users should only get en empty unusable OS, and then have to pick and choose every single application they want to use, in order to be completely fair.

Fragmented or Anti-Competitive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992310)

It seems that Android has to either be anti-competitive or fragmented, because it cannot be both. Fragmented in this context seems to mean that a lot of different people are making money off it, including Microsoft. The argument that it is fragmented also seems to imply that no single entity really controls Android or the revenue stream it generates, so that would tend to undermine the argument that Android is anti-competitive.

Assuming Google is using Android in some other anti-competitive fashion, how is this taking place? Google is trying to monopolise what market with Android? Are the people who use Android forced to use Google for search? Are they forced to use other Google services and not allowed to use those that compete with Google? Does Android force people to use Gmail? The argument that Google is using Android as an anti-competitive measure seems to be unsupported by anything even vaguely approaching evidence or reason.

ok, valid point but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992316)

from neutral eyes you've got a good point. legally there is no difference. Both android and windows should come unbundled from any browser and should be compatible with any browser. the thing i really disagree with is the need for either to be lumped with the other. on opinion i'm with android and chrome but that should be through choice, not by force. competition should be the deciding factor and users should have the choice of any/or/both at all times. at the end of the day users are paying therefore they should be left total free will to mix/match/ignore as they see fit.

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36992506)

No it does NOT remind me of any anti-trust case.

Glad we got this resolved.

I have to get back to my coitus interruptus. I can only do one thing at a time so don't bother me.

A reform IS needed (1)

mkdx (1314471) | more than 3 years ago | (#36992522)

Patent System the current system will just encourage companies to develop off shore, especially small ones and startups, that if it does not stop them in their tracks before even stepping in market. How can many companies hold thousands of miniature patents like that? thousands of patents sound absurd. I wonder if this level of "innovation" exist in any other sector....
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