Google Android and Microsoft's lawsuit efforts could poke manufacturers to embrace mobile operating systems like webOS, fragmenting the industry further.
In the course
of promoting Windows Phone, Microsoft executives have seized on Android's
supposed fragmentation issues, arguing that Google's platform is in serious
danger of splitting itself across too many versions on too many different
Larry Page has embarked on a quest to refocus his company on its core
properties, a strategy that could rein in Android's fragmentary impulses.
Nonetheless, Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility, combined with Microsoft's
attempts to squeeze Android manufacturers into "royalty agreements," could end
up fragmenting the smartphone industry in startling and unexpected ways.
HTC is apparently
debating whether to purchase an operating system for its mobile devices. That
information comes from Focus
, which quoted from an interview HTC chairperson Cher Wang held
with the Economic Observer
"We have given it thought and we have discussed it internally, but we will not
do it on impulse," she told the latter publication. "We can use any OS we want.
We are able to make things different from our rivals on the second or third
layer of a platform."
likewise dipped its toe in the smartphone OS waters with Bada, its platform for
an increasing number of smartphones. Despite the imminent demise of its
smartphone hardware division, Hewlett-Packard is trying to license the webOS
operating system it inherited from Palm-and which could, at least in theory,
end up purchased by HTC. Intel may also push its MeeGo operating system,
despite Nokia's wholesale abandonment of the platform in favor of Windows
Even if Google
manages to exert more control on the Android device ecosystem, its
manufacturing partners seem increasingly determined to use the platform as a
jumping-off point for crafting something unique to their brand. At Samsung's New
York launch of its Galaxy
S II smartphone
, executives emphasized how they had "skinned" Android on
the smartphones with the company's proprietary TouchWiz interface; they've
already done a similar thing with the Galaxy Tab 10.1.
So here's the
scenario: iPhone and Android continue to duke it out for smartphone market share,
while manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung work to develop alternative device
lines running proprietary operating systems. Meanwhile, Microsoft and Research
In Motion push Windows Phone and BlackBerry OSes, respectively, and take
whatever share they're due. End result: a smartphone "tank" filled with a few
sharks and an enormous amount of guppies and bluefish.
contributes toward this fragmentation by pushing forward with its Android
strategy, which seeks to offer manufacturers a stark choice: either enter into
a royalty agreement for every Android produced, or face Redmond's army of
attorneys in court. Microsoft argues (stridently) that Android violates its
patents. But manufacturers might pursue a third option: embrace another
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