Patent Law Threatens Mobile App Developers

Till now mobile related patent lawsuit are playing in the court of mobile phone and os manufacturers. But now the scene is going to change. Early this week both Apple and Android released figures regarding their app stores. Apple App Store has 425,000 apps and Android Market has 250,000 apps. App Store is now used by 200 million people and Android Market is used by 135 million people. But the future of developers is not as bright as we thought.

Apple has already reached a total of 15 billion app downloads to date. It currently has 425,000 apps available to more than 200 million users. Android confirmed that it had already reached 6 billion app downloads. The android app market has 250,000 apps available to the more 135 million android devices worldwide. But it is not all rosy for those developing this huge amount of apps. Continuous patent lawsuit have a devastating effect on the app industry. A growing number of app developers are choosing not to sell their products in the U.S. market. Developers are being left unprotected from the threat of legal action with both Apple and Google accepting no responsibility to represent its developers. It is these developers that create brand value and loyalty for mobile operating systems.

Lodsys, a patent company, has been wreaking havoc across both iOS and Android platforms in the U.S. Many developers have fled the U.S. to the European market. A developer based in Scotland stated that he was "starting to get seriously concerned about my future as a software developer due to these patent issues". In an interview with the Guardian another developer added that it was "far too dangerous to do business in the US because of the risk of software patent lawsuits". Those developers based in the U.S. are worse off, in particular those already on Lodsys’s hit list.

So, as growth in the app industry is being restrained by patent lawsuits, should operating software providers do more to support those within their developer network? While competition to attract developers remains so intense surely the likes of Apple and Google will put forward some form of a proposal to protect or negotiate on behalf of their developers. Even the offer of some legal support would prove helpful to those threatened by legal action. Lets not say financial support, but at least some fundamental guidance. Admittedly this will not eradicate the threat. To be frank the threat is not just going to disappear.

Possibly the formation of some kind of developers alliance or union could help resolve the issue. It would mean that licenses could be purchased by many developers as a single entity. The cost could be split between the union and big names such as Apple and Android. Obviously developers would have to join the alliance as members to be entitled to benefit from any agreement. It would allow for responsibility to shared across developers and operating software developers. What’s more union would be able to represent developers in negotiating any agreements.

If such an arrangement could not be reached then life would become very difficult for developers. The likes of Android may have to put in place some type of regulation system that would ensure that developers are not infringement in the first place. It would mean closer communication between both sides to ensure developers are found liable. Again, it is all in the best interest of operating software producers as happy and content app developers bring the best out of any platform. In today’s smartphone orientated market apps play a crucial role, a operating system without an adequate app developer ecosystem simply cannot compete.number of android phone apps
Source: Brothersoft

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