Court hears how Google was losing money on Android as recently as 2010

Court hears how Google was losing money on Android as recently as 2010

Most of us are against the lawsuits and legal battles that have become the norm in the mobile tech industry over the last year, simply because we'd rather see companies use our money to build great products, as opposed to paying lawyers' fees.

But lately we've seen a few interesting facts come to light that have changed our opinion somewhat, and here's another – from the Google v Oracle court case: Google actually lost money on Android as recently as 2010.

The case being heard in California isn't specifically about mobile, but rather Oracle's claim that Google has violated patents related to the Java programming language, which Google in turn says is open source and therefore not subject to intellectual property rights.

But in the course of legal proceedings Google has been forced to hand over financial information to US District Judge William Alsup, including quarterly profit and loss figures for Android for 2010 – figures that Google has kept firmly to itself until now.

The specific numbers are still a mystery, as the figures were handed to the judge in a sealed envelope, but Alsup then referred to some of the information out loud in court, revealing that Android had made a loss in all four quarters. “That adds up to a big loss for the whole year,” he concluded.

With Android's current dominance it's easy to forget that it only took top spot in the mobile OS wars relatively recently. But hearing that Google was actually losing money on it as recently as the end of 2010 still comes as a bit of a surprise.

Yes, it's ostensibly an open-source platform and so doesn't bring in cash directly, but it does raise questions as to just how much money Google is actually making from Android right now. Whatever the figure is, based on this evidence it may be less than we think.

Via Reuters

Read more about: Android

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10 comments

barrybarryk  May. 4, 2012 at 19:08

I don't really think that's surprising, they've probably left off all the additional web advertising revenue and their app store sales cuts since it'd look better for the case if it was presented that way. Just pitching the licensing revenue against the set-up and R&D costs.

Pondlife  May. 4, 2012 at 20:02

What licensing revenue?

rubidiumlem  May. 4, 2012 at 23:31

What licensing revenue?

companies using android pay depending on what they include

e.g. cheap android tablets like archos 70 shipped without the android app store to save costs (they used a crappy proprietary app store instead)

Pondlife  May. 5, 2012 at 13:20

A few people have stated this in last week but I can't find anything about it, only company I can so find making money from licensing android is microsoft.
I thought that they needed to be assessed to see if they could get the market but that the assessment was free.

Thought part of the reason archos shipped like that was to try to get money from their own app stores and possibly as they realised they weren't quite good enough or maybe even they were using a version of android that Google didn't think was suitable for tablets.

There were phones that were cheaper than the archos 70 (was initially) that had the app store too.

http://source.android.com/faqs.html#how-much-does-compatibility-certification-cost

barrybarryk  May. 5, 2012 at 16:30

If I am not a manufacturer, how can I get Google Play?
Google Play is only licensed to handset manufacturers shipping devices. For questions about specific cases, contact android-partnerships@google.com.


How can I get access to the Google apps for Android, such as Maps?
The Google apps for Android, such as YouTube, Google Maps and Navigation, Gmail, and so on are Google properties that are not part of Android, and are licensed separately. Contact android-partnerships@google.com for inquiries related to those apps.


Regardless of them not mentioning cost there, it isn't free. Just try run android on anything that didn't come with it natively and you'll see that google have a very unique interpretation of the term open source. Android is full of proprietary closed source binaries, that's why people have such a hard time getting features like hardware decoding to work on "non certified" devices despite containing the same chipset as certified ones

Pondlife  May. 5, 2012 at 17:41

Find any mention of how much it is anywhere then.

CTPAHHIK  May. 7, 2012 at 08:13

Android is free, but Google Apps are not. CM Mod comes without Google Apps, as they require appropriate license and were asked by Google to be removed.
There was an article that Apple pays huge amounts of money to Google for licensing Maps or whatever it is iOS uses.
I think court paper only included Android revenue itself, without Google Apps and without advertizing. Advertizing is cross platform, so it would be very difficult to calculate. Don't know about Google Play as this is part of Google Apps.

Pondlife  May. 7, 2012 at 11:45

So still more talk about them not being free but no link to anything about costs, I've looked and I can't find anything. I know google apps require a license but have seen no costs for their use on android anywhere. The link above shows Google Play isn't charged for and as you can download Google maps and Google Mail at the very least from there don't see how they could charge for those either.

I think they know exactly how much revenue they get from advertising on each platform tbh, fairly sure part of the devices request for the adverts would be which device it was.

barrybarryk  May. 7, 2012 at 12:38

The License is paid for. That's why they say "Contact us for Details". Not being able to see the price publicly doesn't mean it's free, it normally means it's very expensive.

Otherwise why wouldn't there just be a download link to the .apk for other Android devices to use.

Pondlife  May. 7, 2012 at 12:46

The ms fee isn't published but details of how much they make from various android manufacturers isn't hard to find hints of, and yet no such suggestions for Google.

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