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Eric Schmidt Talks Android Patents, Motorola Independence, Apple Siri

V3 reporter Dan Worth
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Microsoft shouldn’t make money on Android devices, Google will run Motorola independently, and Apple Siri is a “significant” rival to Google search, according to Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt. As usual, Schmidt’s comments have been making headlines this week. Here’s a quick rundown of the former CEO’s comments.

Microsoft's Android Patent Strategy

eric-schmidt-google-headshotSchmidt attacked Microsoft's patent licensing strategy, which has forced several Android handset manufacturers to strike deals with Redmond in order to sell handsets.

Huawei is in talks with Microsoft on a legal deal that would give Microsoft per-device royalties. Smartphone makers such as HTC, Samsung and Acer have already struck deals with Microsoft; Motorola is the last remaining major manufacturer to resist.

Schmidt said during his first visit to Taiwan on Wednesday that it is wrong for Microsoft to make money from Google's products.

"I want to emphasize that Google built these products, not Microsoft," Schmidt said.

Schmidt reportedly promised that Google will continue to provide its Taiwanese handset partners with patent access and any other information they may need to fight off Microsoft's advances.

However, intellectual property analyst Florian Mueller argued that Schmidt's comments "totally ignore the basics of patent law", namely that Microsoft was first to the game with its patents.

"Patent law is a strict liability regime without an 'independent creation' defense," he said in a Twitter post. "Schmidt may not like that patent law rewards the first to create something and penalizes all subsequent ones, [but] that's the name of the game."

(Original V3 story here)

Google Will Run Motorola ‘Independently’; Android vs. iOS

Google will run Motorola as an independent business unit to reassure Android partners such as Samsung and HTC that the $12.5 billion deal won’t affect their use of Android, Schmidt said during a visit to South Korea, home to Samsung, the most successful Android handset manufacturer. Running Motorola as a separate entity is part of Google's desire to keep Android as an open platform, he said.

"With all of our partners, we told them the Motorola deal will close and we will run it sufficiently and independently, that it will not violate the openness of Android ... We're not going to change in any material way the way we operate," Schmidt said, according to several reports. Motorola stockholders will vote on the deal November 17.

Samsung was the first vendor to launch a device on the Ice Cream Sandwich Android 4.0 update, in another move that appeared calculated to reassure Samsung that the Motorola deal won’t affect its use of Android.

Schmidt also sought to quell criticism that Android ripped off the iPhone's iOS platform, going as far as to suggest that Google's operating system was in development before Apple's.

"I think most people would agree that Google is a great innovator and I would also point out that the Android effort started before the iPhone effort," he said.

The comments come after revelations in the recently released Steve Jobs biography that the former Apple chief executive was outraged at what he saw as a blatant copy of iOS and threatened "thermonuclear war" with Google over the issue.

(Original V3 story here)

Apple’s Siri a “Significant” Rival to Google Search

Speaking of Apple, Schmidt has claimed that Apple's Siri technology represents a "significant development" in the search market, in an apparent attempt to highlight the numerous alternatives to Google's own search services.

Google is currently being investigated over anti-competitive behavior in the search market for allegedly favoring its own products over competitors', and having such dominance in the market that other companies cannot compete.

However, Schmidt argued in a letter sent to US senators that Siri is just one example of the way in which technology can innovate at such a speed that Google is continually under threat from new services.

"Apple's Siri is a significant development: a voice-activated means of accessing answers through iPhones that demonstrates the innovations in search," he said. "Google has many strong competitors and we sometimes fail to anticipate the competitive threat posed by new methods of accessing information."

While Siri is Apple's first search tool, it relies on technology from other sites to deliver results, and Schmidt's claims appear more an attempt to convince senators that Google has rivals than a genuine concern that Apple could affect its core business.

Nevertheless, the statement marks a clear departure from Schmidt's previous claims that Facebook and Apple are not competitors to Google, a statement he admitted is now wrong.

"My statement last September was clearly wrong. The Internet is dynamic and has changed significantly. The importance of social networking to consumers' online experiences has changed remarkably, even over the past year," he said.

Schmidt's appearance before the first US senate hearing on Google's search practices led to his denying accusations that the firm "cooked" search results to favor its own products.

This article was originally published on V3.


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