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Android Businesses Google Microsoft Operating Systems Patents The Almighty Buck

Finding Fault With the Low, Low Price of Android 364

bonch writes "Google's accusation of patent abuse toward its competitors has generated many responses, some of which have asked whether Android's free price is anti-competitive. Drawing comparisons to Microsoft's antitrust trial, in which they were accused of giving away Internet Explorer to drive competitors out of the browser market, Thurrott argues that Google's rivals are 'leveling the playing field' through patent fees by removing an artificial price advantage funded by monopoly search revenues. 'One could argue that Google is using its dominance in search advertising to unfairly gain entry into another market by giving that new product, Android, away for free. Does this remind you of any famous antitrust case?'"
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Finding Fault With the Low, Low Price of Android

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  • by Superken7 ( 893292 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @06:53PM (#36991920) Journal

    I assume that the author quoted in the summary refers to Internet Explorer, which was bundled and forced down the user's throats, as you could not even uninstall it or the Operating System would stop working.

    How can this be compared to Android, which is just an open source project? CHOICE remains, as far as I know.

  • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @06:54PM (#36991930) Journal

    Haven't we seen enough of these paid shills over the years to understand their point of view? They get paid money by Microsoft to influence opinion so that Microsoft can sell more stuff. They are corrupted by the money, so it isn't an honest opinion. Therefore, why pay attention?

    I suppose some variety from the usual Florian dreck is nice, though.

  • by hilather ( 1079603 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @06:55PM (#36991934)
    While Android may be free (if you exclude the price to use the android market) it is still very different from the Internet Explorer case. Internet Explorer is bundled with the Windows operating system, so its installed already whether you like it or not. Android is a choice by the manufacturer and a relatively cheaper choice then the competition. Manufacturers CHOOSE to use Android, and consumers CHOOSE to use Google for their search queries. Nobody is being forced into anything.
  • Terrible (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DanTheStone ( 1212500 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @06:56PM (#36991946)
    Thank you, Slashdot, for informing me of a website I never, ever, want to read again.
  • by icannotthinkofaname ( 1480543 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @06:56PM (#36991948) Journal

    Agreed. I'll believe these claims about Android being anti-competitive when those same accusers also declare intention to sue entities like Canonical, who also give away superior software for free on a regular basis.

  • by zero.kalvin ( 1231372 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @07:00PM (#36992000)
    The analogy is flawed, they can't compare Android to IE. IE was shipped with WinOS. WinOS was the more or less the only used OS out there ( I mean for the general population) , that's why it was anti-competitive to give for free ( or why it was anti-competitive by MS ). Now the case with Android is that it does not enjoy a monopoly, the hardware is diverse, and on the same hardware provider ( Like HTC for example) is offering different OS. If they want to offer it for free then it's not the Open Handset Alliance's problem, if others want to out compete Android, then they must offer something distinguished so that people will consider paying for it. It is the same more or less with Linux on the desktop.
  • by throbber ( 72924 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @07:05PM (#36992044)

    Is it? I've been trying to find a recent source release for Android .....

    I think the best you can say is that Android *was* open source.

  • 'anticompetitive' (Score:4, Insightful)

    by roman_mir ( 125474 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @07:15PM (#36992138) Homepage Journal

    In today's world there is only one meaning of the world 'anticompetitive', and it means: didn't pay the politicians enough to be left alone to do business as one sees fit.

    So what if somebody is giving away free product? How about a free OS altogether? If they can do this and not go out of business, they should and consumers are the winners, not losers in this game. If the competition can't do anything about it, then it sucks for the competition. If the competition goes out of business because of it, it sucks for them. If eventually the company has to push prices above 0, this will just signal the market that there is a possibility to compete on non-zero price again.

  • by phoenixwade ( 997892 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @07:21PM (#36992196)

    Lets make collecting rain illegal.

    It IS, in some western states, illegal to collect rainwater. http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/water/4314447 [popularmechanics.com]

  • by unrtst ( 777550 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @07:24PM (#36992212)

    Agreed, but more importantly (IMO), they aren't bundling Android with their "monopoly" produce of search.

    Microsoft didn't just give IE away for free... they took their dominant position of OS distribution, and bundled in a free-as-in-beer IE, AND (initially) did not provide any way to remove it. They also provided major "incentives" (read; deterrents) to hardware distributors to encourage them to only ship Windows.

    Google is not providing any additional incentives to handset makers who use Android. And many of those (ex. HTC) make just as many handsets that run other OS's, and push/market them equally. When Dell started selling some boxes with linux on them, it was only a couple, and they were underpowered; ditto for their no-os choices; and the price difference was not the equal of the cost of a Windows license.

    Google's offering is also free-as-in-freedom, which IE was not. You can argue about v3.0 if you like, but it's not officially in distribution yet, and the source to IE was never free.

    Also, when you go to google.com, you don't have to use Andoid, and it's not pushed on you either. A more comparative example - when a mobile user goes to google.com, they can still use the site just as well as if they came from Andoid. When a Netscape user went to Windows Update, it simply did not work - and still does not work - it requires IE.

    Can some similarities be drawn? Yes. Fortunately, by doing so, it should be obvious that they are actually making the right decisions with how to distribute this product, as opposed to the many anti-competitive choices that Microsoft made.

  • by derGoldstein ( 1494129 ) on Thursday August 04, 2011 @07:44PM (#36992400) Homepage
    This could actually make a dangerous precedent. If you give out free (as-in-beer) software, you're accused of dumping? So Flash, Acrobat Reader, anti-virus software, Quicktime, Paint.Net, and the Opera browser are all guilty? I really hope that if someone actually makes such a case, it'd be shot down instantly.
  • by exomondo ( 1725132 ) on Friday August 05, 2011 @02:41AM (#36994404)

    Sounds exactly like what Google's trying to do but failing to since the iPhone is still by far the most profitable smartphone out there.

    Not really, google doesn't care about the profitability of smartphones at all, all they care about is the advertising revenue generated by the platform. The profitability of the phone is irrelevant, what they want is marketshare, more eyes on ads, that's what makes them money and given their marketshare they are winning at that game.

  • by Patch86 ( 1465427 ) on Friday August 05, 2011 @04:21AM (#36994768)

    And Apple sells iPhones with iTunes & Safari pre-installed, and Microsoft sell Windows phones with Bing search tools and probably some mobile form of IE. What's your point?

    On an Android phone, I can install many different browsers (as many as anyone could care to programme). I can use Bing on it, and if Apple wanted to release an iTunes product (I don't know if they have), I'd be able to use that too.

    What we're talking about here is Google funding their software with a non-standard funding model (that is, using mobile advertising revenue rather than point-of-sale prices). There's nothing stopping the others companies doing the same (not least Apple, who we're told time and time again by their fans that they're slaughtering the competition in terms of market share, or Nokia, who were number one in market share for a very long time). They're all just complaining that their business model is being trumped by someone else's business model, and they want the law of the land to fix it for them- which is not what the law of the land is for.

  • by grahamm ( 8844 ) <gmurray@webwayone.co.uk> on Friday August 05, 2011 @07:08AM (#36995260) Homepage

    Linux is free and Windows has to be paid for. So using this same argument, Linux should be the dominant PC Operating System, but it is not - Windows is. Therefore being free cannot be the only reason an OS is the dominant one.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas