WhatsApp is hugely popular in Brazil where mobile subscribers pay high rates for cellular calls and messaging. WhatsApp isn't getting as much use today as a Brazilian judge has ordered the country's five wireless providers to block access to the service. Unlike past blackouts, this one does not include an end date—it's intended to continue until WhatsApp complies with a court order to turn over information. However, it says the requested information doesn't exist. Read More
Here's a bit of a blast from the past. A federal judge has decided that Amazon was in the wrong when it billed parents for in-app purchases made by their kids on its Appstore platform. Both Apple and Google settled this case with the Federal Trade Commission two years ago, but Amazon wanted its day in court. It didn't go so well. Read More
Google and Microsoft, while not outright enemies, have been engaged in a number of public slap-fights over the years. After all: they're competitors, and Google competes with Microsoft in three areas where the company's fortunes have sharply declined (smartphones, the browser wars) or never really got off the ground to begin with (search).
Microsoft has even been engaged in lawsuits against Android and, under threat of legal action, extracted (and may continue to extract) royalties from companies that make Android devices. Microsoft also helped lead the charge in what was likely the impetus that eventually caused the European Commission to file antitrust charges against Google last week. Read More
Today, the EU filed antitrust charges against Google related to the Android mobile operating system. The internet is absolutely alight - both for and against the allegations the European Commission has levied at our favorite search company that also makes our favorite mobile operating system. The key complaints boil down to three core ideas.
- Google requires manufacturers to bundle Google Chrome and Google Search, and set Google as the default search provider on their devices if they are GMS (Google Mobile Services) partners. This, allegedly, reduces competition for apps that perform similar or identical functions.
- Google does not allow manufacturers to both be GMS partners and produce incompatible "forks" of Android on other, non-GMS devices.
Telecom operators in Brazil have been working for months to undermine the legality of WhatsApp, and now a judge in Sao Paulo has apparently agreed with the arguments. Starting at 9PM ET this evening, WhatsApp was blocked in Brazil, and will continue to be blocked for 48 hours. Mobile operators have said they will enforce the block (probably while high fiving each other). What will happen in 48 hours is unclear, but you can bet Facebook has multiple planeloads of lawyers on their way to Brazil. WhatsApp founder Jan Koum is certainly not amused. Read More
Acting on a complaint by Russian search giant Yandex, Russia's antitrust authority has ruled that Google's policy forbidding the pre-installation of competing search providers on GMS-enabled devices is illegal in the country. Yandex, who dominates the huge Russian market on the desktop, has been hemorrhaging market share in mobile to Google. Their complaint is that Google cannot have a rule requiring Google be the default (and only) search engine on devices that ship with the Play Store.
Now, Google never prevents people from downloading a different search provider from the Play Store. From the perspective of Yandex, though, Google dominates the mobile market so much that this policy is an abuse of their power. Read More
In the beginning, there was Android. Android was an open-source, largely hardware-agnostic operating system designed to work on a variety of devices and form-factors, and then Google bought the company that made it (also called Android, founded by Andy Rubin). Then, there was Google's Android. Google's Android was still open source, but now it came with stuff you'd actually want to use. Like an app store. And Google Maps. And Gmail. And Google Search. And did I mention Android itself was and is still open source? Because it was and is, and will continue to be likely for many, many, many years into the future. Read More
We like to (deservedly) give AT&T a lot of grief around here, but it looks like they have a case in their latest lawsuit. According to the legal documentation, AT&T has evidence of several employees having engaged in a scheme to illegally obtain unlock codes for AT&T customers that were still under contract. Why would they do that? Well, the lawsuit alleges they were taking money from Swift Unlocks, a web-based company that charges a small fee to unlock people's carrier smartphones.
The nearly-defunct two-year contract model that all carriers once used was built on the premise of making top smartphones more affordable up front. Read More
While it's not the "rounded rectangle" iPad patent of fame, the iPhone 3G design patent is easily the second most-famous Apple design patent of record. It's called D618677, and it was a key issue in Samsung v. Apple "round one" - and by "key issue," I mean "reason for most of the remaining half billion dollars in damages." According to the USPTO, that iPhone design patent is now invalid on multiple counts of obviousness in light of prior art (in a technical, not literal, sense - two very different things).
Samsung was deemed to infringe this patent by a jury, and while it may well have were the patent valid, the USPTO is saying the point is moot - the patent itself is not eligible for protection. Read More
AT&T, who prefers to keep as many $100 millions as they can, has strongly suggested to the FCC that the carrier should not be required to pay the $100 million fine levied for throttling users on unlimited data plans. The punishment comes for failing to make it clear to customers that have grandfathered packages that while their service is called "unlimited," they will actually be throttled to 2G speeds once monthly usage exceeds an arbitrary amount that is not disclosed to subscribers.
To sum up AT&T's rebuttal, they say that the FCC is wrong about the current law and wrong about whether AT&T informed their customers about how unlimited data plans work. Read More