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Archive for September 6th, 2013

Some thoughts on the new anti-Google (Android) complaint (2/3): Predatory pricing claims

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This is the second post in a series; click here for Post 1 (on background and dominance)

According to FairSearch  (see here) “Google’s predatory distribution of Android at below-cost makes it difficult for other providers of operating systems to recoup investments in competing with Google’s dominant mobile platform“.

Unsurprisingly, this claim has spurred very strong reactions from the FOSS community, which regards it as a direct attack to the Open Source/FreeSoftware development model (see notably here, here and here). Android is indeed FreeSoftware, meaning not only that it is distributed for free, but also that it adheres to the so-called 4 freedoms: (i) the freedom to run the program, for any purpose; (ii) the freedom to study how the program works, and to adapt it to the user’s needs; (iii) the freedom to redistribute copies; and (iv) the freedom to improve the program and release the improvement to the public. This means that asking Google to start charging for Android would be akin to force it to stop supporting FreeSoftware.

A quick look, however, would reveal that this is a non-issue. It is undisputable that given Android’s FreeSoftware/public good nature Google doesn’t have the ability to set a price. The price is 0.

There are certainly interesting pricing issues to be discussed in the software industry, but, in our view, they arise with respect to proprietary software, not free software.

This should be enough to end the discussion, but if this interests you, click on the hyperlink below for more developed thoughts (if you’re lazy you can just stick to the arguments in bold to get the general idea):

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Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

6 September 2013 at 12:39 pm