Litigation Could Change the Face of the Mobile Market in the Next Year

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-09-15 Print this article Print


5. Apple has a strong portfolio

The issue right now is that Apple might have the strongest mobile portfolio in the business. Over the last several years, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company has been applying for patents at an astounding rate. And most importantly, it has been granted those patents at an astounding rate. Combine that with the fact that Apple is Google's top contender in the mobile space, and it quickly becomes clear why Google is so worried.

6. It might be Microsoft's "in"

Microsoft is Google's arch-nemesis in the mobile space. Both companies are trying to appeal to vendors with their products, and elsewhere around the industry, there is a palpable hatred between the firms. Right now, Microsoft is targeting a host of Android vendors, trying to get them to pay it a fee for each device they sell. If Microsoft continues to be successful, and wins the cases it has initiated, it might just be Microsoft's best way to gain at least a chunk of the mobile market.

7. Vendor relationships

The trouble with all these lawsuits is that Google's vendor partners are bearing the brunt of the litigation. For now, those companies have stayed strong and fought through it. But how much longer will that happen? Android's success directly relates to the number of vendors supporting the operating system. If vendors decide to go elsewhere for fear of continuing to get hit with patent lawsuits, Google could be in deep trouble.

8. It really can stifle innovation

Google is right when it says that patent litigation can stifle innovation in the mobile space. Companies both big and small have a host of patents right now that, most would agree, are laughably broad, and probably shouldn't have been granted. What's more, there are other companies that are doing really neat things, but getting hit hard by the owners of those vague patents. Patent litigation works to a degree. But in this case, it might be stifling innovation.

9. The future is in doubt

There's no telling what the future holds when it comes to the mobile market. Will the patent lawsuits continue? Will Google use Motorola Mobility to end them? Will Google itself take aim at other firms? There's no telling. And that makes Google nervous. In the next year, many of the biggest cases in the mobile space will likely be settled. And when that happens, the face of the mobile market could be very different.

10. Nothing will stop the litigation

Unfortunately for Google, it has no way to stop the current litigation. As noted, its patent portfolio is quite weak, and until it can take control over Motorola Mobility's more than 17,000 patents, it will need to wait and watch. But even then, there's no telling if Google will be able to stop all the litigation. It's quite easy to file cases, and its competitors have enough cash to keep cases hanging in court. It's a real problem.

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Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at

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