Google’s mobile operating system Android has been released in September 2008, and, even though we have never knew exactly how much money it's producing, we’ve always figured that Android is one of the most important sources of revenue for Larry Page and Sergey Brin’s technology giant. Of course, Android (or anything else, for the matter) is no match in terms of money making to the mother of all cash cows – Google's search business. Still, having the world's top mobile OS should bring in some decent amount of greenbacks, right?
Some recently released figures might suggest a whole different scenario. According to UK's broadsheet The Guardian, the entire income that Android has generated for Google in three years and a half could be ”just” $550 million.
All right, some of you might say that’s still a big pile of money. Well, it actually isn’t, if we take into consideration the fact that about 200 million Android devices have been activated by the end of 2011. That means that, on average, each Android-based gadget has only brought Google a little over two bucks, which is, to be honest, disappointing, to say the least.
Before jumping to other conclusions, though, including what some of you might be thinking right now (that Google made a big mistake with Android and should cut the project short sooner rather than later), we should talk a bit about the source of these figures. Why is that? Because it might be an indication that the number is far off from a real, official, and credible source.
As some of you might know, Oracle has recently filed a patent and copyright infringement trial against Google. The trial, scheduled to start last October, will, in fact, see a first court hearing on April 16, 2012 at the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
Oracle’s allegations initially referred to five Java-related patents that were supposedly infringed by Google, but, according to some sources, three patents will be dismissed by the Court or withdrawn by Oracle’s legal team.
The two withstanding accusations have, however, at least some chances to harm Google, whose legal department has decided to offer Oracle a settlement offer. The offer is based on Google’s total revenues generated by Android devices, which The Guardian estimated (based on the settlement offered by Google) at $550 million.
However, as revenue figures from such a long period can be easily manipulated, concealed, or modified, it’s pretty hard to believe that the guys at Google are just going to let everybody know about their real earnings, and give Oracle a shot at leaving the table with a big pile of money.
It’s far more comfortable to play the role of a victim, to minimize the accrued earnings, and to cheat Oracle of what they could get out of the trials, isn’t it? Well, it’s practically impossible to know for sure if Google is playing it fair or not about this settlement offer, so for the time being we can only speculate.
On the other hand, I think that one thing is clear, nevertheless. If Oracle really has a strong case against Google and they think for just one second that those revenues are phony, we will be seeing a very interesting and potentially bitter legal battle over the next year. Or, at least, taken to the point where Google changes its initial statement and declares other figures as “official” earnings.
Either way, I think this is an interesting story to follow up in the coming weeks, so stay tuned and we will let you know about any developments that take place.