Google's unofficial motto may be "Don't be evil," but if you ask location-based services company Skyhook, Google hasn't done a very good job of practicing what they preach. Skyhook is suing Google for anti-competitive practices and patent infringement, alleging that Google has been using its clout to force device manufacturers to end their contracts to use Skyhook's services and use Google's technology, instead. In order to convince companies to use Google's tech, Skyhook says, the company would threaten "to deny timely and equal access to evolving versions of the Android operating system and other Google mobile applications."
Today Skyhook's complaints came to light and, while this is most certainly only one side of the story, it's still pretty interesting. Skyhook claims that Google went directly to Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha to stop development on the DROID X because it was using Skyhook's location services rather than Google's. This delayed the X's release, causing Skyhook to be dropped completely from the handset. Skyhook also alleges that a similar situation happened with another manufacturer, although the second company is not referred to by name. The openness of Android is also attacked by Skyhook, as the company claims that Google's decision whether or not to allow something access to the Android Market and various Google apps is based on something called the Compliance Definition Document. This doc allows Google to interpret the rules however they want. Finally, Skyhook alleges that Google has told Android manufacturers that they're required to use Google Location Services, costing Skyhook millions is lost contracts.
Again, we have to keep in mind that this is only Skyhook's side of the story, and I'm sure that Google will come out swinging with their own equally compelling version of the events. Engadget's Nilay Patel does make an interesting point in his report, reminding us that Google has never actually come out and said what requirements a device must meet in order to gain access to the Android Market and various Google apps. It's entirely possible that Google could be using their power to convince Android OEMs to use Google's own services rather than opting for another company's tech. On the other hand, these complaints may just be coming out because Skyhook is feeling burned. We'll have to wait for Google's side of the story to come out before we're really able to make a judgment. Until then, what do you think? Are Skyhook's claims legitimate?