Why Google’s Android OS is not free

May 3, 2010

When Google announced the Android operating system for mobile phones, it appeared to be available at no charge, making it a very attractive option for handset makers. It turns out, however, not to be free after all.

Google is not charging handset builders for the operating system, at least not directly, but the end result is the same: there is a fee to be paid for the Android OS on every phone sold with it. According to Technewsworld, the result of an Apple lawsuit against HTC for intellectual property infringements, when combined with a deal with Microsoft involving required payments to use parts of the Android OS means that, in the case of Android, open source is not always free.

Some industry analysts are saying that the total cost per phone of Android may be as much as $80, which is a pretty good hit for something that was thought to be free. This has got to be affecting the bottom lines of companies like HTC and Motorola, who based their handset pricing on a no-cost operating system. It is difficult to tell what the result of these charges may be, but it could result in either higher prices for Android phones or in some handset makers abandoning the Android OS altogether.

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