Gaggle of Google news: Antitrust, fight against Oracle, Samsung earnings, Drive, Kindle Fire

Here’s a Friday roundup of tech goings-on, all of which are related to Google in some way:

• Is a U.S. government antitrust action against Google coming soon? Although FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said the hiring of an outside, high-profile attorney did not necessarily indicate it, the Mercury News’ Mike Swift points out that this is the first time in five years the federal agency has taken such a step. The New York Times notes that the Federal Trade Commission has brought in an outside litigator only twice in the past decade, and quotes experts who likened Beth Wilkinson’s hiring to that of the government’s hiring of David Boies in its antitrust case against Microsoft. And the Wall Street Journal reports that Wilkinson, the former Justice Department prosecutor who had a big role in the conviction of the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, was brought in to help determine whether the government should sue Google.

Google acknowledged last year that the FTC had informed it of a probe into the Mountain View company’s business practices. (See Google confirms FTC probe, says its principles will ‘stand up to scrutiny.’) The giant company — maker of the world’s largest search engine, the No. 1 mobile operating system and much more — also is facing an antitrust investigation in Europe. (See Google and the law: It’s either too controlling or not enough.)

• Meanwhile, Google appeared to bolster its case against Oracle in court Thursday with the testimony of former Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz, who “gave a strong endorsement” that Google was free to use the Java programming language in Android, reports Brandon Bailey of the Mercury News. Then another former Sun CEO, Scott McNealy, countered Schwatz’s testimony, saying Google needed licenses for Java’s application programming interfaces, or API. However, Google reportedly played a video of McNealy saying “interfaces should all be published and open” at a 2010 conference. “Open doesn’t mean throw it over the wall into the public domain” was McNealy’s response, according to Bloomberg. By the way, Oracle’s lead lawyer is the aforementioned David Boies.

Oracle sued Google in 2010, accusing the Android maker of infringing on its patents and copyrights for Java. On, we have a special page dedicated to the clash of the titans.

• Speaking of Android, here’s some Google-related good news: Android-based phones propelled phone manufacturer Samsung to record profit for the quarter, helping Samsung topple Nokia as the world’s No. 1 seller of mobile phones. Samsung sold 93.5 million handsets in the quarter, or more than 1 in every 4 sold, according to statistics cited by Reuters. Finland-based Nokia had held the top spot for 14 years. In smartphones, Samsung sold 44.5 million in the first quarter; Apple was second in market share with 35.1 million iPhones sold.

• In the latest sign of hand-wringing over just about anything Google does nowadays, its terms of service for Google Drive, which it launched earlier this week, has been met with concern about users’ privacy and intellectual-property rights. Some were confused over whether users who upload their personal documents and photos to the cloud-based storage locker turned over their rights to that content to Google. As the Associated Press (and the company) point out, the TOS for Google Drive — and other Google offerings such as Gmail — include fairly standard legal language and the following: “You retain ownership of any intellectual property rights that you hold in that content.” The Verge did a comparison of the TOS of Google Drive and competing services such as Apple’s iCloud or Dropbox, and found they were pretty much the same.

• And finally, more Android:’s Kindle Fire comprised more than 54 percent of Android tablets in the United States in February, according to a new report from comScore. Coming in a distant second was Samsung’s Galaxy Tab with 15.4 percent. The Kindle Fire was up from last month’s 41.8 percent market share, the Galaxy Tab down from 19.1 percent. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes for Forbes, though, that this isn’t good news for Google: “People are choosing Amazon’s vision of what Android should be over Google‘s vision. …It’s now clear that the tablet market is a two-horse race, split between two very different devices.” He speaks, of course, of the iPad and the Kindle Fire. Gartner recently estimated that the iPad would end 2012 with 61.4 percent global market share, compared with 31.9 percent for Android tablets.

Speaking of fire, Amazon is en fuego today. The world’s largest online retailer is seeing its shares soar 16 percent to about $227.50 as of this post, the day after its first-quarter results blew past Wall Street’s expectations.


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  • RC

    Maybe someday Amazon will even make as much profit as say, Starbucks?

    Amazon $130million profit on $13.2billion revenue

    Starbucks $309.9million profit on $3.2billion revenue

    I guess we can see who has a better business model. Like the saying all hat no cattle we could say that Amazon is all revenue no profit?