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Big Cellphone Makers Shifting to Android System

Published: October 25, 2009
Since 1996, Microsoft has been writing operating systems for little computers to carry in your pocket. It was a lonely business until the company’s perennial rival, Apple, introduced the Web-browsing, music-playing iPhone. But now that smartphones are popular, Microsoft’s operating system, Windows Mobile, is floundering.Laptop Cop

Peter Yates for The New York Times
Andrew Lees, Microsoft’s vice president for mobile communications, says the company has altered its cellphone software strategy.

David Paul Morris/Bloomberg News
Motorola is one of the cellphone giants switching to the free Android software. Above, the company’s Cliq smartphone.

More cellphone makers are turning to the free Android operating system made by Microsoft’s latest nemesis, Google.

Cellphone makers that have used Windows Mobile to run their top-of-the-line smart-phones — including Samsung, LG, Kyocera, Sony Ericsson — are now also making Android devices. Twelve Android handsets have been announced this year, with dozens more expected next year. Motorola has dropped Windows Mobile from its line entirely in a switch to Android. HTC, a major cellphone maker, expects half its phones sold this year to run Android. Dell is using Android for its entry into the cellphone market.

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Nokia & Apple Headed to Court Over Patent Breach

Nokia, the world’s largest mobile phone manufacturer, is suing Apple in a US court, alleging the iPhone infringes 10 of its wireless patents, in a move that could cost the Californian technology firm tens of millions of dollars.

The two companies have been locked in talks to agree a licensing deal that would see Nokia receive payments for the technology it has developed, which has become an industry-wide standard. Talks, however, failed to reach a settlement and Nokia has started legal proceedings, which are unlikely to enter court until the end of 2011.

A Nokia spokesman said that Apple would be able to continue developing the iPhone and shipping existing models, even though the company alleges that every device breaches its patents.

“We are not seeking to disrupt the business of any operator or the company, we are looking to get appropriate compensation for our intellectual property,” he said. “For Nokia, legal action is always a last resort.”

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“The patents cover wireless data, speech coding, security and encryption and are infringed by all Apple iPhone models shipped since the iPhone was introduced in 2007,” Nokia said.

The company said it has invested billions in research and development over the past two decades and has successfully entered into licence agreements including these patents with approximately 40 companies, including virtually all the leading mobile device vendors.

“The basic principle in the mobile industry is that those companies who contribute in technology development to establish standards create intellectual property, which others then need to compensate for,” said Ilkka Rahnasto, vice president, Legal & Intellectual Property, at Nokia. “Apple is also expected to follow this principle. By refusing to agree appropriate terms for Nokia’s intellectual property, Apple is attempting to get a free ride on the back of Nokia’s innovation.”

The move came as rumours run rife that Google is about to unveil the latest version of its software platform. Android 2.0 is rumoured to be nicknamed eclair, following on from version 1.5, which was branded “cupcake”, and version 1.6, codenamed “donut”. Much of the naming speculation comes after a video surfaced on the internet showing Google staff placing a giant eclair on the lawn of the company’s Mountain View headquarters, next to the existing cupcake and donut whose appearance had heralded previous software releases.

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