Back in April it was announced that Motorola was switching to Boston-based Skyhook for location services on its Android phones. That never happened, apparently, and now Skyhook has filed suit against Google, saying it strong-armed Motorola into breaking contracts. A separate lawsuit alleges patent infringement.
The suit basically says that Google -- and VP of engineering Andy Rubin specifically -- told smartphone manufacturers they couldn't ship Android phones unless they used Google's location service, and that Motorola was told to halt orders even after Skyhook had been tested and approved by Google. Skyhook also said the same thing happened with another unnamed company.
So what does this mean for us, the end users? In the short-term, not too much, so long as there's not some crazy ruling that halts all current shipments until this is sorted out. (And that's pretty far-fetched.) Like all lawsuits of this nature, this one's going to take time to hash out. We may yet see Skyhook used on Android phones; we may see the lawsuit disappear. We'll just have to wait and see.
That said, it wouldn't disappoint us to see Google tightening the reins a bit on what can be changed at the lower levels of Android. (We're looking at you, Verizon.) We just hope they do it in a way that doesn't break existing contracts -- or hurt end users. [NYT]