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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

March 2, 2010 at 9:49 AM

Apple sues HTC over iPhone, after Android gold rush story

I wonder if the timing of Apple’s lawsuit against HTC over iPhone patents has anything to do with an Android developer that surfaced this week.

HTC is the primary manufacturer of Google Android phones, which have been on sale since late 2008.

Apple has dominated mobile developer mindshare with the iPhone’s App Store. But that story began to wobble over the past year or so as developers realized they weren’t making as much money as they thought they would.

Then on Monday, word, came that the gold rush is now happening on the Android platform.

At least it is for Eddie Kim, who told the world he’s making $13,000 a month selling his “Car Locator’ app for Android.

The headline on “Watch Out, iPhone Devs: One-Man Android App Nets $13K Monthly.”

“There’s money to be made there, and the userbase is only getting bigger,” gushed the RWW blog, which is influential with developers.

Apple surely has been exploring the patent suit for some time, but is it a coincidence the filing comes a day after Android finally gets its Klondike Kim story?

HTC is based in Taiwan but its U.S. headquarters — named in the suit — are in Bellevue. Its software interfaces targeted in the suit were probably partly developed in HTC’s secretive (and Apple friendly)Pioneer Square software development lab. A picture I took last year in the lab:


Apple came out with its horns blowing, issuing a press release with a sharp statement from Steve Jobs:

“We can sit by and watch competitors steal our patented inventions, or we can do something about it. We’ve decided to do something about it,” Jobs said in the release. “We think competition is healthy, but competitors should create their own original technology, not steal ours.”

Who knows who stole what, but squabbling over patents is a cornerstone of the tech industry. Most every player — including Apple — has been found to have poached someone’s technology at one point or another.

An HTC spokesman in Bellevue said the company is still digesting the suit. He provided a statement noting that HTC “is a mobile technology innovator and patent holder that has been very focused over the past 13 years on creating many of the most innovative smartphones” and “values patent rights and their enforcement but is also committed to defending its own technology innovations.”

The statement:

“HTC only learned of Apple’s actions this morning via media reports, and therefore we have not yet had the opportunity to investigate the filings. Until we have had this opportunity, we are unable to comment on the validity of the claims being made against HTC.”

Comments | More in | Topics: Android, Apple, apple


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