Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Once upon a time, there were two people who liked each other, even respected each other. They gave advice and took direct interest in what the other was doing. Then something happened, and one accused the other of betrayal. Now they hate each other, but unable to eradicate the other from their lives, they’ve been relegated to slinging potshots in the media or in court.
Okay, so pop quiz: Am I talking about Jon and Kate Gosselin, or Google exec chairman Eric Schmidt and Apple CEO Steve Jobs? There’s something about watching these luminary figures of technology that’s just so reality TV, it’s kind of mind-boggling.
Here’s the latest drr-ra-ma: When Schmidt addressed a Google mobile conference in Tokyo today, he confidently stated the company would stand behind HTC, and that in the end, it will triumph in the patent infringement case against it. But that’s not all — he also made some interesting remarks about certain companies that shall not be named (but probably reside in Cupertino, CA).
“We have seen an explosion of Android devices entering the market and, because of our successes, competitors are responding with lawsuits, as they cannot respond through innovations.”
Oh no he di’int!
Yes, in fact, he did. Sure, Microsoft may earn $5 for every Android phone that HTC puts out — meaning it ironically makes more from Android than Windows Phone 7 — but really, there’s little doubt about who Schmidt was actually calling out here. He may not have cited Apple by name, but Jobs & Co. just won round 1 in its patent infringement case against HTC, with the International Trade Commission’s recent ruling that the Taiwanese company violated two of Cupertino’s patents. Schmidt said that Google would stand by HTC, but didn’t specify exactly what that meant.
If the ruling sticks in the full commission, then what happens next? Could Apple levy a hefty licensing fee? HTC’s already dealing with an expensive payout (to Microsoft, remember?). How would it continue with operations under such weighty fees? And could this set a precedent for Apple’s battles against other Android makers?
Tune in for more episodes in this unscripted drama.