Showing posts with label Motorola. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Motorola. Show all posts

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Will Google deliver on the promise of a Uphone**?

A smart phone you can put together like one’d assemble Lego bricks?

When I looked up the Phonebloks link my niece sent, it all sounded quite phony (pun intended..) to me, a prejudice probably not helped by my ignorance & helped in a large measure by the prominent donate button on the blog-like website. I was cynical to the extent that I didn’t quite believe the site’s claim of Motorola collaborating with them, cross verified this on Motorola site and figured it’s indeed true – apologies Dave (Hakkens), my bad!!

I then stumbled upon Project Ara, a free, open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones which Motorola hopes will turn out to be the Android of Hardware. If I set aside the confusion of if Project Ara is a googlified version of Phonebloks OR if Motorola was indeed working on it for the past one year, as a user the concept of a modular phone that can be customized and reinvented unendingly does sound wow!

Then again, the whole promise is based on open source hardware development & the current phase of the collaboration seems to be still at the user level (Ara Scouts & Volunteers respectively). Assuming it’s rather early to expect the real collaboration of initiating projects to build the endoskeleton/ base & bloks/ modules to start, I’d still think before embarking on development & if indeed Google has to be successful in creating, in its own words, ‘a vibrant third-party developer ecosystem’ through project Ara, the more imminent need is for the creation of the right ecosystem that supports ‘open hardware development’.

Sure there seems to be some semblance of ecosystem out there wherein the open source hardware developers adapt/ use closely representative OSS licenses &/ or use hardware specific licenses like TAPR Open Hardware License. But given the massive commercial potential of the Project Ara & the implications and complications thereon, an open slot seems to exist for a specific purpose license that carefully addresses the scope & limitations of all applicable laws (patent, copyright, distribution et al) & standards and one that simultaneously enables collaboration and protects the commercial interests of the smallest member of the ecosystem - This responsibility I guess Google’s invited upon itself now.

Another possible challenge the previous generation of OS Incubators like Apache till date didn't have to worry too much about but Google/ Motorola will need to address proactively is the issue with potential for conflict of interest** owing to their mutually contrasting roles, one that of an investor funding (& thus part-owning) newer technologies of promising start-up enterprises & another, that of an impartial administrator/ incubator of an open development platform – while Android can be showcased as a precedent, I’m sure Google will admit hardware is a different devil altogether.

**I did a quick check on the portfolio companies of both Google ventures & Motorola Solutions Ventures but did not find any investment into any hardware start-ups – simultaneously reassuring and confounding J - what say Limor “Ladyada” Fried?

While I won’t certainly join the band of naysayers (like here..), I won’t hold my breath either - I will surely watch out though for the promise to materialize.


Why ARA?

Wikipedia offers two options 1) Ara, a southern constellation situated between Scorpius and Triangulum Australe AND 2) Ara, a neotropical genus of macaws with long striking tails, long narrow wings and vividly multi coloured plumage.

I choose Ara the Macaw, since this beautifully assembled by the primordial open-source development platform called evolution! & exotic creature sure looks like it could represent an assorted group of engineers putting together an equally assorted and exotic device. But knowing how project names work, Ara just can’t be a bird alone.. it should be an acronym too…… Android Rear-ending (into hardware) Alliance? :-)


**Uphone is a moniker I coined solely for the sake of using in this article that discusses the proposed modular smartphone from the recently launched Project Ara.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Will the Indian Mobile makers pay a price for the judicial ambiguity (& their own..) on 'Essential Patents' & FRAND terms?

In his characteristic & incisive style, 'Spicy IP' Prashant Reddy unravels for debate, the ongoing litigation between Ericsson & Micromax Informatics Ltd. after Ericsson sued Micromax (and Mercury Electronics Ltd.) a few months ago for allegedly infringing 8 of its telecom patents for a range of wireless technologies, including 3G, AMR and Edge - read the artcile here @ 

Looking at the haste in which the Delhi High Court granted an ex-parte interim injunction against Micromax, I cannot but agree with the writer's initial assessment that Indian regulatory apparatus & companies are not geared up for fighting complex & strategic IP litigations.

I however don't share Prashant's (rather gloomy) view that "it is unlikely they (Indian companies) will take the extra-effort to counter-attack Ericsson in a bid to pre-empt future action by other patentees" - like i said earlier in a article of mine, commerce & the promise of it is a good enough reason for any company to learn the ropes of the trade. It also should be understood that, even if it makes immense sense, someone like Micromax may not really be able to go all proactive since they aren't exactly the Apple OR Samsung & their margins, I would expect, will be minimal.

The need is however crystal clear - It's about time Indian regulators, judiciary & indian tech-companies that have to mostly deal with dangerous dampeners like royalty-stacking et al take a crash course in what they need to expect & how they could make strategic litigation a part of their daily lexicon.

below is my comment posted on the above article on Spicy IP;

vishrasayan said...
Excellent insight Prashant!

It appears as though the displaced-vanguards of the mobile technology such as Motorola, Ericsson have re-strategized their revenue generation to monetizing their patents rather than depending on competitive selling :-)

I also see your point about the Indian regulatory, judicial apparatus & the companies themselves prepping way too less on litigations and that's bothersome – this lack of comprehension also resonates with the lack of precise articulation I wrote about some-time ago on my blog… hopefully this will change.

I do agree the potential for royalty-stacking in mobile technology makes it much complex and hence the need for a middle-path, but healthcare too comes with its own complexity of access to latest innovation - I have read your earlier post on compulsory licensing – it appears to me there’s a dichotomy in your justification of premium for innovation (patents) in healthcare and not applying the same yard-stick for the mobile technology…?