Oct 24

I recently discussed how Microsoft is charging Android phone manufacturers a $5-$15 fee per smartphone to license Microsoft patents.  Now Oracle has its hand out and is asking for a whopping $15-$20 per Android smartphone for royalties on its patents.  So far none of the major phone manufacturers have coughed up any money to Oracle, but it’s only a matter of time before the Oracle lawyers get involved, and the money starts flowing.

The irony here is the only major mobile player that isn’t making money off smartphone licensing is Google, maker of Android, the most popular mobile operating system in the world.  One of the main reasons Android is so popular is because of its open-source status.  This means that smartphone manufacturers can use Android for free and modify it to their needs.  But as we’re seeing with Microsoft and Oracle fees, Android is not free at all.

Will these cumulative licensing fees start to drag down the appeal of Android?  Eventually smartphone manufacturers will need to pass these licensing costs on to the consumers.  Another reason that Android phones are more popular than the iPhone is because they are much cheaper for consumers, but that could change as well.  And finally, how long can Google sustain itself solely on advertising revenue and continue to give away all of its Android and cloud software for free?

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Article published on October 24, 2011

2 Responses to “Oracle Seeking Android Licensing Fees”

  1. Gonzo Says:

    Google can decide one day that it wants money from the use of Android in its open source form, but the history of that sort of decision makes that a foolish move. Every time a company has successfully closed their grip on the market of an open source product to charge for it, the product ceased to be a major player in the market. Which is a great concern for Java itself with Oracle’s move to monetize what has only had success by being free. There are too many alternatives out there now to start pulling the rug and expect people to keep playing for very long, either for Java or Android. Since Google is an entirely ad-dependent business in the smartphone market, this would be a fatal mistake, one I doubt they’ll make.

    And with Google making purchases so that they’ll have a dog in the fight against Oracle, I expect the licensing fees from Oracle to be whittled down considerably, if not outright eliminated. If Oracle pushes too hard, Android 5 could easily be ported to one of the many, many, many other C-based languages out there, with a convenient new “GVM” that works a lot like what already exists, but without implementing anything Oracle owns. There are already plenty who write in other C-based languages and then convert it to work on Android, so there isn’t really that much cost to Google compared to the lost business in allowing Oracle to fee Android to death.

  2. john Says:

    Android is free, but you have to pay Google for it’s apps (gmaps, gmail, etc.). It’s pure manipulation.

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