When Apple sued HTC last year claiming the Taiwan smartphone vendor had violated twenty of its patents, Google noted that it would stand behind its Android OS and its hardware partners. With HTC now amending its own suit against Apple to include additional violations of patents it recently obtained from Google, it appears that Google can also walk the walk and is willing to show its loyalty to its partners
According to media reports, HTC has added nine more patents to the list of patents it claims Apple has violated, with the additional patents acquired from Google only last week. According to Reuters, HTC has also filed an additional suit against Apple alleging patent violations in iOS devices and Mac computers.
Commenting on the news, Digitimes Research analyst James Wang noted that this was not simply an action in a proxy war against Apple but that a show of loyalty was perhaps needed. Wang explained that after its recent purchase of Motorola, Google needed to show its partners could trust the company. In addition, with HTC launching the HTC Salsa and HTC Chacha with Google's rival, Facebook, Google was able to make a show of good faith by helping on the patent claim and perhaps bring the second largest Android smartphone maker back to the Google fold.
However, it was also about showing its loyal partners that Google has their back against Apple and that is something that vendors in China will be watching very closely as they move forward. In the China market, companies including Baidu and Alibaba have announced their own mobile operating systems, called Yi and Aliyun, respectively, that are based on Android but that do not have Google standing behind them in full support.
Baidu is especially likely to be utilized by vendors looking for a free open OS strategy in China, but worries remain that vendors will be under attack for patent infringement with Apple and Microsoft, Wang pointed out. Google is showing its Android licensees that they will be protected by Google if they stick to the official version of Android, but perhaps not by Baidu and Alibaba if they adopt their respective platforms.
Wang is the author of the Digitimes Research Special Report, "Expectations for the 2H 2011 tablet market."