Ever since the beginning of the Droid, Google has been throwing their weight around. The high-profile stuff has been pretty apparent (see anything patent-related and the subsequent crying of wolf), especially the great failures of said weight throwing (see fragmentation, et al).
But one of the biggest ploys to get their way has also been the most under-reported thus far:
…the Skyhook XPS WiFi and cell tower positioning system was all set to ship in the Droid X before Google got involved and Motorola dropped it from the phone.
Nearly 800 pages of documents were brought to light in a continuing case against Google over the Skyhook location services. The biggest marks against Google come from emails sent from the top positions at both Google and Motorola, many painting the “Don’t Be Evil” company in as negative a light as possible.
Mainly, the issue comes down to Google telling a near-death Motorola that they’ll cancel the Droid unless they use Google’s own location services. Motorola had already signed on with Skyhook contractually, as had Samsung at the time, and neither company was given any indication from Google about these requirements.
At least, not until Google realized this would reduce their advertising revenue by removing a large portion of data they could harvest from consumers regarding their traveling habits and so-forth:
- Amazingly, this entire brouhaha started because Google’s Vic Gundotra noticed this Business Insider post on Motorola choosing Skyhook for upcoming Android devices — Motorola hadn’t officially told Google about the switch yet. Making things doubly worse, Skyhook hadn’t actually cleared its press release with Motorola even though the two companies had had a contract for nearly 18 months already. Had Skyhook just kept quiet, things might have been very different.
- Vic sent out an email containing nothing but the link on April 26, 2010 at 9:11AM. Googlers sprung into action.
- By 10:27AM Google’s Charles Mendis had responded, saying that the Skyhook / Motorola deal “feels like a disaster,” and suggesting that Google “figure out a battle plan.”
- At 10:46 Google’s Mike Chu had replied, saying ” I think we need to understand how much better Skyhook actually is.”
- At 2:36 Google’s Zhengrong Ji replied and said “It’s sad to see first Apple, now Motorola moving away from us, which means less collection” for Google’s location database.
- Meanwhile, Google’s PR response was underway, and by 3:08Pm on April 27 Google’s Andy Mathis wondered if Motorola could sound more favorable to the pressin responding to questions about Skyhook. “Perhaps there is language we can plant with them for a blog post?”
It’s not like it isn’t obvious to the OEMs that we are using compatibility as a club to make them do what we want…
Pretty bad by it’s own, let alone when included with the rest of the case.
In the end, Motorola broke the contract with Skyhook because they couldn’t afford to not build the Droid.
Definitely check out The Verge’s breakdown of the case and documents for the full gamut.
- Is this Android “mutiny” happening at Sony, Intel, somewhere else? (betanews.com)
- Manufacturers plan to fork Android, says report (androidauthority.com)
- Keen On… Ted Morgan: Why Skyhook Has Become A Harvard Business School Case Study [TCTV] (techcrunch.com)