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Google document mentions "lead device" strategy, names Motorola and Verizon as example partners

Posted: , by Michael H.

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Google document mentions
One of our favorite sources for digging through legal documents and patents, Florian Mueller, has found something pretty interesting, and possibly troublesome in a new document filing from Google in its case with Oracle. The filing mentions a "lead device" strategy wherein Google would give early access to software to certain companies that conform to its standards. This in itself isn't that bad, the trouble is that Google mentions Motorola by name. 

The filing by Google says that the company uses a "lead device concept", in which partners get early access to software for devices built to Google's specifications, and the document uses Motorola and Verizon as the examples. Google states that the trade-off is that device partners get a "non-contractual time to market advantage" in return for complying with Google's standards. 

Many will jump on this as a doom-sign that Google will be favoring Motorola, and this will be trouble for other manufacturers. The troubles with jumping to that conclusion are: 1) Google also mentions Verizon, so this may not have anything to do with the recent acquisition of Motorola, and could be referencing the Motorola XOOM, which was the lead device for Honeycomb, and had an exclusive with the Android tablet OS on Verizon. 2) Google has been using this strategy with 3 generations of Nexus devices already, which have come from HTC and Samsung. 

So, over the next couple of days, as the news spreads around, let's all keep in mind that this "lead device concept" is nothing new. Google used it from the beginning with the G1, then on with Eclair on the OG Motorola DROID, Froyo and the HTC-build Nexus One, Gingerbread and the Samsung-built Nexus S, Honeycomb and the Motorola XOOM, and with Ice Cream Sandwich and the upcoming Samsung-built Nexus Prime, which is also getting a Verizon exclusive in the form of the DROID Prime

source: FOSS Patents

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posted on 07 Sep 2011, 16:50 2

1. dandirk (Posts: 187; Member since: 04 Aug 2011)

This has nothing to do with purchase of Moto imo.

This is essentially just the "with google" labeling program. Maybe this is intented to go farther then the "with google" label.

I don't think google would be stupid enough to try an "Apple" like hardware+software approach, well at least one that would gain a distinct advantage to market but Moto.

The 3rd party software support is by far the biggest reason Android as taken so much market share.

posted on 07 Sep 2011, 18:34 2

6. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2720; Member since: 26 May 2011)

This isn't quite the "with Google" label, because that can be applied to any phone that has passed the quality control to allow the Google Apps. This is more to do with devices that gain an amount of market exclusivity like the Nexus phones, XOOM, G1 and OG DROID.

posted on 07 Sep 2011, 18:44

7. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

I think is a good solution, Google gets a established and constant hardware line from various manufacturers in exchange they get the next version of the flavor to play with and release updates and more powerful phones faster

posted on 07 Sep 2011, 21:33 1

9. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

i agree. Exclusive time windows are fine with me if its garunteeing unaltered pure google experience. Does that also mean that its going to be like a nexus device and recieve updates directly from Google and bypass the carrier? That will seal the deal for me. More phones than just Nexus that do that would be awesome.

Then we could have a real inner-android food fight over pure google phones and updates vs carrier updates :)

posted on 07 Sep 2011, 23:47

14. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2720; Member since: 26 May 2011)

I'm still not sold that there's a very big market for pure Google. We nerds certainly want it, but we make up a very small proportion of the market. Motoblur may suck, and TouchWiz is nothing special, but Sense has some really nice features. And, again, most people aside from us don't really know or care if they've got the most updated version of Android. They update when it's there, and if not, they don't think about it.

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 01:28

19. ilia1986 (unregistered)

I agree. It's not the "with-Google" brand that matters. It's the whole experience. Pure google devices would still have a market niche, for rom developers for example and such - but with TouchWiz and Sense around - most people are going to want these types of phones due to the UI.

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 06:59

27. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

in my own limited personal experience, we keep the LG G2X next to the Sensation... of course the LG is pure google while the sensation is sence 3.0. I have to explain the differences between PureG and sense and watch the customers choose between them. Most of the time I'll make them spend a few minutes with each to get a feel for each. While a lot of them do go for the flashier Sense its not really "that much" more than go for stock. If I had to guess, I'd say 60/40. Again, thats just from my own experience though.

Point is, there might be more of a pureG market out there than we.. or the manufacturers give credit for. Thats why I'm dying to see a fight between the same spec'd phone.. say the SGS2 or the Sensation, one with manufacturer overlays and one with PureG, on the same network, and see which people buy.

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 11:27

41. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Thing is, remixfa correct me if I'm wrong but as far as I know it's much easier to get a sense device, and then either disable or completely remove Sense, than get a PureG device and install Sense or even Sense-like features.

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 11:52

42. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

lol, i dont think either are all that easy to do one then the otehr unless its one of the few devices that HTC has given its unlock tool for :)

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 12:42

44. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Well there are roms with Sense.. and afaik rooting HTC phones shouldn't be a problem as they are very popular. Then again - I've also seen people showing in YouTube how to disable Sense as well.

Damn.. I can't wait to sell my stupid iPhone 4 and get into this whole Android-root-rom-theme-widget-custom luncher thingy! :D

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 13:05

48. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

oh, HTC loves to bootlock their phones, just like Motorola. They are notorious for it and they get better with every generation. I havent looked myself, but ive heard that the Sensation has been unbreakable so far. LG and samsung leave the doors wide open though.

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 14:23

52. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Ugh.. well if that's true - that's too bad. I did hear that they're releasing an unlock for the Evo3D or something.. and later on for the sensation as well.


posted on 08 Sep 2011, 19:27

56. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2720; Member since: 26 May 2011)

It would certainly help to get a sense of consumer interest in stock if Verizon had a few devices. Maybe we'll get a glimpse with the DROID Prime.

posted on 07 Sep 2011, 16:56 2

2. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

Ah, Michael, always with the level head. Why can't you panic and scream doomsday like any other sensible hater? ;)

I think that your conclusions are valid here. Motorola has already been involved with Google in much the same capacity as Google implies here anyway, with the original Droid and the XOOM. Really nothing new. And the other manufacturers have still been more than happy to keep releasing Android phones like clockwork. I think that Google is also mentioning this "lead time" as an incentive to persuade manufacturers not to put out bulls**t phones with Android slapped on almost as an afterthought, almost as a form of quality control.

posted on 07 Sep 2011, 23:48 1

15. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2720; Member since: 26 May 2011)

I'm sorry. My rationality does get the better of me. Maybe one of these days I'll get it in me to write some sky-is-falling link bait, but I doubt it. I'd feel too dirty afterwards.

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 00:20 1

16. snowgator (Posts: 3604; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)

Ever consider it for an April 1 story? I'd be all in on helping. We can put the over/under on those that jump on the end of life as we know it posts at about 45 .....

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 07:01 1

28. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

well, garunteed 1 jumper if you post that samsung is dumping bada, garunteed 10+ jumpers if you post that samsung wins all worldwide suites or HTC gets a temp injunction on iphone sales.. lol

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 11:22

40. ilia1986 (unregistered)

Just post that Apple has been bought by Uwe Boll and he is now going to design the next iPhone. Watch suicide rate among iSheep rise. :D

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 11:53 2

43. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

omg.. Uwe boll.. the bane of gamers and movie watchers everywhere..
i think i just puked in my mouth.. lol

hey, at least u know if he did a "serious" apple movie, it would be a comedy with horrible effects, acting, and a plot that would make "Postal" look well thought out.. lol

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 13:01

46. ilia1986 (unregistered)

lol yeah - it would be about how Apple patented the earth. And then populated it with people. And then turned 75% of them to iSheep to garner profit.

The opening cut-scene would describe a giant Apple hitting the universe - imploding and exploding simultaneously, while raining forth a brrage of iPods, iPhones and iPads, like one giant white cocaine filled breath from the mouth of TC.

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 13:06 2

49. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

call it "The Big "Apple" theory... the story of how the universe was created in Steve Jobs' image"


posted on 08 Sep 2011, 19:29 1

57. MichaelHeller (Posts: 2720; Member since: 26 May 2011)

Oh god, don't even joke about something like that. The idea of Uwe Boll taking over Apple is the most nightmarish scenario I've heard in a while, and no one could ever claim that I'm an iSheep. The industry needs Apple to be Apple. No one needs Uwe Boll for anything, ever.

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 00:21 1

17. snowgator (Posts: 3604; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)

Sniggs!! Good to hear from ya. Was expecting to see ya all over the Bionic posts.

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 02:06 1

20. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

I guess I didn't feel like I had too much to add, especially since I don't have the money (or really the use) for the Bionic at this point, lol. It's awesome that it's finally being released, and it looks amazing, but I'm already stretching it with the Atrix budgetwise.

Thanks for the warm welcome back though. :)

posted on 07 Sep 2011, 17:29 1

3. bossmt_2 (Posts: 457; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)

Google is gonna say this cause their first tablet launched with Moto, and their first huge cellphone seller (and also the first 2.0 Android device) was the original droid.

I don't think what they're saying is out of line, do you expect Android to only make Motorola devices on Verizon? Verizon embraced Android by creating the Droid labeling (well purchasing the rights from LucasFilms) and marketed the devices with companies like Motorola aggressively. It was some time ago but do you remember the iDon't commercials that peppered the MLB Postseason and NFL?

posted on 07 Sep 2011, 17:45

4. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)

Also just noticed this is quite similar to my idea! They are listening :D

posted on 07 Sep 2011, 18:30 1

5. QWIKSTRIKE (Posts: 1290; Member since: 09 Mar 2010)

stupid article

posted on 07 Sep 2011, 21:34 2

10. remixfa (Posts: 14605; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)

I am watching the clock.. waiting for peter to run in here screaming about the end of android and the rise of bada because motorola was mentioned in the article. :)

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 00:24

18. snowgator (Posts: 3604; Member since: 19 Jan 2011)

I am exhausted from typing the replies to our Bada cheerleader. I thought about posting one just so no one would miss him. :-)

posted on 08 Sep 2011, 03:20 1

22. PeterIfromsweden (Posts: 1230; Member since: 03 Aug 2011)

I'm not saying the end of Android.
I believe Google might have 20 % of the market share at the most when they start doing their own phones. Of course, 20 % market share when doing your own phones gives you much your profit than 60 % market share and giving Android away for free.

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