The Android is looking and feeling more like the iPhone, just like Windows was looking and feeling like the Mac OS in the 1990's before it took over the market and reduced Apple's market share from 30% to less than 10%. Every successful product has its imitators by me-too manufacturers, anxious to take advantage of the innovations but not pay for them. However, from the perspective of Android users and developers, the developments described in this blog are disheartening. Device manufacturers both in the United States and overseas are feeling the pressure to drop Android, the former because they may lose lawsuits and the latter because there may be an import ban on Android devices. Apple, however, needs to step into the vacuum that it is trying to create and offer Google and device manufacturers a way into the market. They don't need to be greedy. If they take a 5% royalty, this would be one of the richest deals ever.

How Apple Could Give Google a Big Black Eye
July 19, 2011

Apple (AAPL) is well on its way to destroying the Google (GOOG) Android as a competitor, writes FossPatents, with an International Trade Commission holding that Apple has valid patents on key smart phone technologies.
HTC (HTCXF.PK) is downplaying the impact of the rulings, but an identical case could be brought against Motorola (MMI), Samsung (SSNLF.PK), and any other Android maker, with the same result. FossPatents, which has been following the issue closely for months, writes that the patents seem impossible to invent around, and could give Apple an absolute monopoly on smart phones for years.

Making things worse is that Apple has 16 other patent claims before the ITC concerning HTC, which could order a ban on imports of the devices. Apple could then go to federal court seeking damages on devices already in the market.

Apple is not the only company pushing patent issues against Android makers, and succeeding. Microsoft (MSFT) is also headed to an ITC judgment against Motorola and Motorola is now desperate to delay that decision while it ponders its options.

FossPatents, run by former anti-software patent activist Florian Mueller, counts 49 separate suits now taking place against Android, including a suit by Oracle (ORCL) directly against Google over Java.
Even without the legal troubles, Android is losing steam among developers, who have found that Apple users are more likely to pay, and pay more, for apps than Android owners. This despite the fact there are now more Android apps than iPhone ones.

For the phone makers, the options are limited. They could go into the business of supporting other platforms, like Microsoft Windows mobile, but they would still be liable for past infringements. They could turn to Google for support in their legal fights, and for reimbursement on liabilities, but so far Google has not been receptive.