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Wednesday, September 07, 2011, 03:13 pm PT (06:13 pm ET)

Google plotted to give Motorola early advantage over other Android licensees

In a bid to control the Android platform to derive the most value from it, Google privately outlined a series of policies, including giving early access advantage to Motorola and not developing Android "in the open."

Google's internal presentation was published by the judge overseeing Oracle's Java infringement case, and detailed by Florian Mueller of FOSS Patents. Like the Microsoft monopoly trial a decade ago, Oracle's lawsuit is bringing all kinds of details of Google's secret inner workings into public view.

"Oracle v. Google is a treasure trove of information about Google's Android-related dealings," Mueller observed.

Open after the fact

The presentation slide is titled, "If we gave it away, how can we ensure we get to benefit from it?" and recommends a set of policies that include "Do not develop in the open. Instead, make source code available after innovation is complete."

Google has regularly closed down Android development at every major release, including the tablet-oriented Android 3.0 Honeycomb this spring.

A second bullet point states "lead device concept: Give early access to the software to partners who build and distribute devices to our specification (ie, Motorola and Verizon). They get a non-contractual time to market advantage and in return they align to our standard."



Mueller also cited a declaration by Oracle stating, "I understand that Google participates in the design and build of some device makers' handsets, and provides the final Android build to the OEM."

Mueller himself notes that "is not like they simply publish the Android codebase on the Internet. According to Oracle, they 'participate in the design and build of [...] handsets.'

"Can you imagine that a company like Samsung, HTC, LG or Sony could still trust Google in this regard if Google actually competes with them through a subsidiary [of Motorola Mobility]?"

He adds that the policy "removes whatever little doubt anyone had left that Google certainly plays favorites with certain Android OEMs, and if the MMI deal goes through, it will play favorites with only one: its own subsidiary, of course."

Despite public assurances that Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility would have no impact on how the company works with other Android licensees, and public statements by Google's partners that they are happy to be "protected" by Google, individual licensees have made plans to protect their own interests.

Most notably, Samsung's executives have initiated a plan to strengthen the company's own Bada platform and hire software development talent.