Sunday, July 17, 2011

Open, as "with holes."

One of the biggest holes in the Open Innovation approach is its lack of a working Intellectual Property  model. For example, Google publishes its Android operating system as an Open Source project and mobile device manufacturers, such as HTC, Motorola, Samsung and others pick it up for free. But at the same time, the manufacturers are vulnerable to patent suits because Google does not indemnify them from patent infringement claims when they use Google's technology. Just a few days ago, ITC ruled that HTC infringes on two Apple patents and can be barred from exporting Android smartphones into the US. Similar suits are pending against Motorola and Samsung.

In contrast, Microsoft, which licenses its proprietary mobile OS to device manufacturers, provides a reasonable protection against such legal attacks. It's quite possible that for software developers the uncertainty surrounding Android's future becomes a factor in the decision about the go-to-market application platform. It could also become a barrier to the adoption of Android in the enterprise market.

At the same time, it's important to realize that in countries that don't enforce Intellectual Property rights all kinds of mobile devices can be put together at zero licensing cost. There's a whole cottage industry of youtube videos on how to run Android on iPhone. Further, you can freely buy one of those hybrid smartphones in China at a fraction of their US retail price.

tags: mobile, information, intellectual, property, business, model, control, innovation, technology, patents, google, apple, microsoft

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