Did Google Screw Skyhook?


google_recruiting_small.jpgADOTAS – If Google’s partnering with Verizon to stab net neutrality in the back had you questioning the search giant’s “Do no evil” mantra, the latest round of lawsuits filed against the company is really going to have you scratching your head.

In the middle of September Skyhook Wireless filed separate patent infringement and tortious interference lawsuits against Big G regarding a deal with handset-maker Motorola that Google may have played spoiler too.

Motorola signed a contract in April assigning Skyhook to install its geolocation technology, which reportedly is more accurate than Google’s offering, on Android-powered Motorola smartphones. However, the lawsuit alleges that Google representatives falsely told Motorola Skyhook’s software was incompatible with Android and that the smartphones would require Google’s location tech as well. Result: the first batch of smartphones to ship under the Motorola/Skyhook deal didn’t have the faintest trace of Skyhook’s tech.

Now why would Google do something so shifty? Well, it’s more than mere jealousy — if Skyhook’s geolocation software was employed on Motorola phones instead of Google’s, Skyhook would be the company scooping up all that precious real-time location data. In essence, Skyhook could steal a huge amount of location-based mobile ads from Google. In addition, Skyhook claims Google stole pieces of its code.

Those are some ugly allegations. It’s already estimated that Google’s mobile ad share will decrease from 27% in 2009 to 21% in 2010 (with Apple entering the space with a 21% share and tying as leader). But would the company go to such desperate lengths to hold onto that share?


  1. These tactics have always been BAU (business as usual) for companies like Microsoft and Google. They do not end up with the huge market shares they have by competing honestly.

    Ask anyone who was in computers back in the early PC days about all the tricks Microsoft pulled to destroy their competition. Google is no different.

    These companies can get away with almost anything. What I will be very interested to see is whether Skyhook is rightfully compensated for their losses.

    What usually happens is anyone who tries to go up against a giant runs out of money before they can ever get a penny. That is how our legal system works to protect those with the deepest pockets from all comers.

    Even those who can hang on until a settlement are likely to be permanently damaged – both by the unfair tactics and the ensuing legal outlays – and never recover.


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