Aug 15, 2011

Will Google start requiring fees from Android developers?

With Google sinking $12 Billion into buying Motorola Mobility, they have reason to rethink their position on keeping Android "open". Apple and Microsoft have been openly hostile to the development of Android as a phone and mobile device platform, and although Google enjoys the popularity they get from HTC, LG, Samsung, and others making Android phones, it doesn't help Google to profit that much immediately since they get to use the Android platform for free. Sure, purchasing Motorola Mobility helps to deepen Google's patent holdings, which should provide some measure of security in a legal sue-happy manner. But $12 Billion is a lot of money, and I'm not convinced that Google wants to gamble with that kind of money.


Much of the scuttlebutt about Google and Android the past couple of weeks has been about how silly their bids for the Nortel patent portfolio was (Pi? Really?) and how they were looking down the barrel of an expensive legal gun. "Will Android Survive" was the question on a lot of peoples' minds. By plunking down a substantial amount for Motorola patents, Google is addressing the fears of developers that Google might be forced to abandon the platform. In one fell swoop Google has changed the feeling of doom that some Android developers were feeling, and now we have reason to believe that Google is committed to making the Android OS not just the most dominant mobile OS, but the best one. This is something that Eric Schmidt just couldn't pull off.


Google should require fees from Android developers. It would help limit the garbage masquerading as Android Apps in the Android Market, and since Android is now a popular platform, they wouldn't have to charge very much to start earning that protection money back. This is a good thing; open source doesn't have to always be a giveaway.

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