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Android to Remain Free, Says Google Chairman

Eric SchmidtEric Schmidt on Tuesday assured the public that despite their pending purchase of Motorola Mobility Holdings, Android will still be offered to other smartphone manufacturers for free.

Google made it clear back in August the company would run Motorola Mobility as a separate business. Still, anxiety has been high among companies who rely on the free OS. Android has been a runaway success among many smartphone makers, with profits soaring into the stratosphere in 2011 – so far, Google’s OS has been the only one to stand toe to toe against Apple’s iPhone.

But Schmidt reiterated the company’s stance, saying the Mobility acquisition won’t “violate the openness of Android,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The deal, which brings with it more than 17,000 patents, is more likely aimed at helping the Mountain View-based company gain a bigger share of the smartphone market pie, especially against fierce rival Apple.

Schmidt also expressed Google’s desire to expand Android’s reach by tapping into South Korea’s local market, where he’s currently on tour, by possibly expanding further into televisions.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of Android-based products is Samsung, who just last month stole the crown from Apple as the world’s largest smartphone vendor. That doesn’t mean Samsung plans to rely solely on the free software. The company penned a deal with Microsoft in late September to develop Windows Phone-based smartphone and tablet devices. In addition, Samsung has its own mobile software platform, named Bada, that they hope to open to developers and smartphone makers in 2012.

With Android gaining so much popularity over the past year, it’s hard to imagine Google ever making Android an exclusive only affair, even if the Mobility purchase goes through. Smartphone makers running the OS have made a big impact in both the high and low-end markets, so if Google were to change their openness stance, it would really be a huge step backwards.

Apple this year has made its own effort to broaden its reach by offering consumers the iPhone 3GS model for free to customers on AT&T with two-year contract. Additionally, its iPhone 4 has been lowered to $99, while the iPhone 4S is $199.


Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...