Archive for Google

Blackberry a Defense for Google Against Rockstar?

If you haven’t been watching the news today, a big bomb was dropped on Google. The Rockstar consortium (Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC) has sued Google as well as Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE. Is there an obvious and easy way around Rockstar?

Brief History

So what happened is this. Nortel was going bankrupt. Google bid for their patents, but lost out to a consortium of companies. That consortium includes Apple, BlackBerry(then known as RIM), Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC. Even at the time, Google’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, wrote that Microsoft, Apple and others were engaging in hostile patent warfare against Android.

Silver Bullet?

BlackberrySo, how can Google and company get around this particular issue? There may be a quick and easy was to do it. Maybe. I won’t pretend to be a an expert at patent law, but I do know that one member of that consortium is not doing particularly well these days. In fact, they’ve been shopping around for a buyer. Blackberry. As a member of the consortium, they would have full rights to the patents owned by the consortium. A purchase of Blackberry by Google would bring ownership of those patents (at least partial) to Google, making the suits against Google moot.

Second Option?

Department of JusticeEven if a Blackberry purchase isn’t a possibility, there’s another possible solution out there as well. During the initial purchase, the DOJ investigated the companies involved because they were concerned (as was I) that the patents being purchased would be used in an offensive against Android. As it turns out, they were right about that (and by extension so was I). The DOJ only approved the purchase with the hopes that Rockstar would only use the intellectual property it purchased strictly to defend itself from Android initiated lawsuits. It may be that the DOJ may not take kindly to this particular aggressive action by Rockstar.

Summary

There’s quite a bit of worry out there today regarding these new suits against Google and the Android ecosystem. I’m not going to say that worry isn’t warranted, but there are options available to Google that could very well make this a minor bump in the road. We’ll have to wait and see how things pan out, but this lawsuit may not be the huge problem so many people think it’s going to be.

Why Can’t I Watch Disney Junior?

Watch Disney JuniorI have three kids 5 and under, and so we’re always looking for a good way to keep them occupied in the car and around town, and they all love Disney stuff. In fact, Disney is the only reason we haven’t completely cut the cord as far as television is concerned.

My wife saw this on TV this morning. There’s an App for the Kindle Fire to Watch Disney Junior. We already knew there was an app for iDevices.

Now, you’d think that because the Kindle Fire is really an Android device, they’d put this out in the Play Store or make it available to more than just the Kindle Fire. You’d think that, but they don’t. This app is listed as incompatible with my Nexus 4 and my Nexus 7, and only exists in the Amazon App Store, despite the fact that Disney has released more apps to the Play Store than the Amazon App Store.

It’s not just the Disney Junior app either. Disney has an app to watch the standard Disney Channel, and to Watch Disney XD. None of these apps are available for Android outside of the Kindle Fire.

Is Amazon paying Apple to keep these apps exclusive to the Kindle Fire, or is Apple intentionally avoiding the Android platform outside of the Fire?

Is Amazon Paying Apple for Watch Disney Junior?

It’s possible that Amazon is paying Apple to keep these apps exclusive. This seems unlikely to me as none of these apps are being billed as exclusive by Amazon. If they were going to pay Apple to keep these apps away from other Android devices, you’d think that they’d brag about it. They’re not bragging, so I doubt that they’re paying Apple for these apps.

Is Disney Intentionally Avoiding Android?

Disney and Apple have had some pretty solid ties in the past. I’m sure we’re all aware that Steve Jobs sat on Disney’s Board of Directors. That was because he was pretty much the owner of Pixar when Disney bought it. As a result of that purchase, Jobs joined the board and became the single largest individual shareholder of Disney stock. Many people probably don’t know that Disney and Pixar weren’t the best of friends until Bob Iger replaced Michael Eisner, and Iger currently sits on both the Board of Directors to both Disney and Apple. Also, the stock owned by Steve Jobs didn’t exactly vanish into the wind when he died. It transferred to the Steven P. Jobs Trust (now the Laurene Powell Jobs Trust) run by his wife. Disney’s ties to Apple are still very strong, so this seems like the more likely choice.

Other Ideas?

There is, of course, a third possibility. I hadn’t noticed the Watch Disney Junior app being available even for the Kindle Fire until this morning. I can honestly say that I don’t know how long it’s been available. The first Amazon review for it shows up on February 16, 2013. That means that it’s only been available on the Kindle Fire for about six months. It’s possible that the app is still in progress for a wider selection of Android devices. Six months seems like a long time if that’s the case, but I’ll admit to not being aware of all the processes required to get an app done at Disney. I’ll update this article if the app suddenly appears on the Play Store.

Regardless, it’s very annoying. I’m not going to buy an iDevice just to have this app. I would like to see the app become available for other Android devices, but it’s been more than a year that it’s been available for iDevices and at least six months for the Kindle Fire. If Disney were going to release it for Android, you’d think they’d have done it by now. Maybe I’m wrong. Let me know in the comments.

More Apple Demands

More Apple DemandsWith it’s most recent step in the ongoing Apple vs. Samsung debacle, Apple has made a surprising demand. From Google. Charlie Osborne over at ZDNet had a pretty good run down of Apple’s demands. My thoughts, both the court and Google should tell Apple to go to hell.

Know what Open Source Is?

First of all, Android is Open Source. The code that Samsung and countless others have downloaded to create their phone is available for free on the Internet. Anybody can grab it. What would a demand from the court get you that a few minutes with a web browser wouldn’t?

Who Is On Trial Here?

I’m sorry, but if the information you need is not part of the source code that is open and available to the Internet, then it’s part of Google’s private business. Why the hell should Google be required to hand over any of their private matters to a competing company that’s doing their best to wipe Google out when Google isn’t the one on trial? If Apple’s beef is with Google, then sack up Apple and sue Google. Going “thermonuclear on Android” by attacking anybody and everybody that uses it is the cowards way.

Makes No Sense

Seriously, how does this make sense? If Google is in violation, sue Google. If Samsung is in violation, then the materials that Google has (other than the already publicly available source code) are none of Apple’s business. Google shouldn’t even waste the paper for a response. The judge should kick their dumb asses out of court for making stupid demands. Of course, this “trial” is taking place in San Jose, which is right in Apple’s back yard, and Samsung is not even an American company, so the odds that the judge will cave to every stupid demand Apple makes is greatly increased. This whole thing is seriously pissing me off, and reducing the already minuscule chances that I’d ever buy an Apple product. If anyone who works at Apple is reading this, I want to make this absolutely clear: I will go back to one of these before I ever buy an iPhone. Get me?

Old Phone

Florian Mueller is no Pamela Jones

pamelajones

Today both Google and Oracle submitted filings to the court detailing individuals that they pay to blog on their side. Google doesn’t pay anybody. Oracle pays Florian Mueller.

Rememberings of Pamela Jones

This whole court case brings me back to the SCO/IBM trial. SCO with grandiose claims, and no facts. It’s just like Oracle’s grandiose claims with no facts. I think that Oracle saw that parallel too, and saw the influence one person had over the SCO/IBM case. Pamela Jones, or pj for short. For those who are unaware, Pamela Jones was the founder of Groklaw. Groklaw covered legal news that was interesting to the free and open source software community. Of particular interest to the free and open source community at the time was the SCO/IBM trial, and Groklaw spent a great deal of time focused on it.

I shouldn’t say “focused”. I should say that Groklaw systematically destroyed any and all claims made by SCO. It really didn’t stand a chance.

History Repeating…. well Not Quite

Oracle must have remembered what happened to SCO at the hands of Groklaw. Rather than try to avoid that, they tried to turn it to their advantage. Oracle thought that if they had their very own Pamela Jones, they could easily take Google down. Enter Florian Mueller.

Mueller wrote some computer books in the 80s, and then did some publishing and distribution. He did some marketing, and founded a game company that went nowhere. After that, he campaigned against European software patents (failed at that too), and then had enough and focused on Soccer. His first post on his blog appeared on Saturday, April 3rd, 2010. Four months and change before Oracle sued Google for various copyright and patent infringement claims.

Mueller took notice of the Oracle/Google case right away, and wrote prolifically about it over the course of the case. Seldom was a positive thing said about Google. In April of 2012, Mueller decided that “transparency” was suddenly important and admitted to being on the payroll at Oracle.

Outcome of the Case

So how did things work out? Well, depends on if you’re a fan of Open Source, or if you’re Florian Mueller. Like almost every other venture Florian Mueller has been involved in, he failed. Oracle was decimated in the courts, and won only a tiny sum based on a Copyright that no one is even sure is going to be valid yet. It could be that Oracle walks away owing Google.

Why Didn’t It Work?

So, why did the this method work so well in the SCO/IBM trial, and work so poorly in the Oracle/Google trial? It’s all about the community.

Pamela Jones wasn’t interested in being known. She didn’t even tell people her name at first (she just went by pj), and there’s still only a handful of people that have met her. Florian Mueller has a big “ABOUT ME” page right on his blog with links to a brief but puffed up profile (“award-winning intellectual property activist-turned-analyst”). The profile even has a nice vanity picture where Florian looks like he’s got enough make-up on to walk the catwalk in Milan.

Pamela Jones was interested in facts. Florian Mueller was interested in lining his own pockets with Oracle’s money, and he was willing to do anything and say anything to do it.

Due to her honesty and integrity, Pamela Jones developed a loyal following in the FOSS community. Due to deep pockets Florian Mueller somehow managed to get an unexpected number of tech journalists and bloggers to believe he knew what he was talking about, at least some of the time. Despite that, he never got the community support that Pamela Jones did.

No, Florian Mueller turned out to just be another blow hard, and Pamela Jones knew he was on Oracle’s payroll long before he admitted as such.

In short (to paraphrase), I knew Pamela Jones Mr. Mueller. Pamela Jones was a friend of mine. Mr. Mueller, you’re no Pamela Jones. (I actually don’t know pj, but I wish I did.)