UPDATE (I should clarify that we do actually use skyhook – see below)
Frederic wrote about this on ReadWriteWeb over a week ago but it’s actually a very interesting story which seems to have gone under-reported.
As Frederic points out in his article the impact on developers from a technical standpoint is nothing – the O/S functional calls will remain identical – however it’s a fairly significant decision for Motorola – especially when one factors in cost.
Google’s location services come for free with Android (which is in and of itself free) for any hardware manufacturers.
I spoke with Ted Morgan, CEO of Skyhook Wireless – (at the RWW mobile summit last friday – see next blog post for more of this) and without disclosing any details he assured me Skyhook’s deal with Motorola is by no means free.
BTW the official press release is here
So the scenario we have here is a company (Motorola) deciding to choose a fee paying service over a free service…which is very interesting – especially when the free service is Google?
If you think about this it’s not comparing apples with apples – because the playing field is not level. If you were a new mobile phone manufacturer and you wanted to choose between licensing company A and B to provide your GPS chipset…that’s one thing.
In this case we have Google location finding BUILT IN to Android and FREE and Motorola is choosinng to go with a product that’s NOT FREE and NOT BUILT IN
The question is – is skyhook’s performance (or skyhook’s database of cellid/wifi) that much better than google’s that it would justify a per-handset cost?
I haven’t seen any compelling evidence to support this claim – though I have heard that a few Android based developers licensed skyhook on an individual basis (disclosure – we do not use skyhook on android – we use google’s built in location finding feature – but we do use skyhook on Nokia and Windows Mobile)
What do people think?