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Apple chief executive Steve Jobs and Google chief executive Eric Schmidt enjoy a cozy relationship thanks to Mr. Schmidt being on Apple's board of trustees. If recent reports hold true, that relationship may have played a key role in Google choosing to bend to Apple's will and not include multi-touch in its G1 phone. By doing so it protected its relationship and protected itself from an Apple lawsuit.  (Source: Venture Beat)
Google's smart phone may have been a little smarter were it not for an Apple intervention, according to sources

As a legal showdown between Apple and Palm mounts over Palm's use of multi-touch technology, which Apple recently gained a patent on, new details are emerging about Apple's efforts to prevent its competitors from offering multi-touch.

Many have wondered why Google's G1 smartphone, the first smartphone to run on Google's new Android OS, didn't feature multi-touch.  Going up against the iPhone, many considered Google's omission of multi-touch to be an unusual slip for the company.

However, according to newly emerging details reported on Venture Beat, the omission was intentional and triggered by strong-arming from Apple.  According to a key Android development team member, Apple demanded early in the development of the phone and OS that Google disable multi-touch.  And Google, which has a relatively healthy financial relationship with Apple despite competition in some sectors, complied out of concern of damaging the pair's business relationship and possible legal action from Apple.

The source expresses relief that Google caved to Apple's demands.  He points to the potential mess that Palm is in with the Pre phone and says that Google did the smart thing in playing by Apple's rules.

Google and Apple share a great deal of business, with Google tailoring its maps and search products for Apple systems, including the iPhone.  Google's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, is also on Apple’s board of directors.  The cozy relationship would seem to give Google extra incentive to meet Apple's alleged demands.

 The G1 and Android have both been shown to be multi-touch capable, but the functionality is disabled or not fully implemented in different parts of the design, puzzling many users.  Now it appears there is finally an answer to this mystery.

The key question that remains is whether Google will continue to bend to Apple's will, or whether multi-touch will become such an essential technology that it will be forced to include in its future smart phones, at the risk of incurring Apple's wrath. 

Google’s future dealings with multi-touch will likely hinge on Palm's success in defending its right to use multi-touch on the Pre.  A Palm loss would seem to make Google less inclined to go against the grain, while a victory would likely embolden it.

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Then how does Windows 7 have multi-touch?
By LTG on 2/10/2009 4:25:09 PM , Rating: -1
Then how does Windows 7 have multi-touch without a peep out of Apple?

Btw its a totally valid thing to patent considering:
1) Tons of people love using it
2) Simple or not, no one else thought to put it in a phone before, so why everyone else profit from their good idea?
3) Doesn't mean other products can't have it, they would likely end of charging a small license fee per device.

By monitorjbl on 2/10/2009 4:35:56 PM , Rating: 3
Multi-touch interfaces are a relatively new technology, I believe. They were only commercially available from FingerWorks around 2000, and Apple managed to acquire the company that provided them in 2005.

While I don't think Apple deserves a patent on the technology as a whole, they did manage to make it fit in a cell phone at a (kind of) affordable price. The only patent Apple really deserves is one on their implementation of the idea.

RE: Then how does Windows 7 have multi-touch?
By shadowoth on 2/10/09, Rating: -1
RE: Then how does Windows 7 have multi-touch?
By TennesseeTony on 2/10/2009 5:04:35 PM , Rating: 2
Wow, you're so right! I never knew Windows 7 wasn't a phone!

Back to the original poster, the one with a valid question and a good deal more sense than shadowoth:

Good question. I don't know the details of the patent Apple has secured, but Microsoft is certainly a competitor to Apple. Perhaps the patent does apply only to smartphones, but there's no mention of it in the article. I can't see Apple letting MS slip that in if they do have a valid patent on the it.

As for Apple being able to patent this at all is a bit silly. I can think of several movies that beat Apple to the punch with the IDEA for the tech, but not the actual implementation. Perhaps it's the TECH behind the IDEA that received the patent?

RE: Then how does Windows 7 have multi-touch?
By Alexstarfire on 2/10/2009 8:13:06 PM , Rating: 1
The patent incorporates cell phones, smart phones, laptops, and other such portable devices. And I would assume that it'd be fine to have in the code so long as the actual hardware wasn't incorporated in the machine, else I don't see how M$ didn't have any problems as Windows 7 will be used on desktops AND laptops.

RE: Then how does Windows 7 have multi-touch?
By tdawg on 2/10/2009 10:06:11 PM , Rating: 3
Doesn't that new Dell Latitude XT2 tablet utilize the multi touch capabilities of Windows 7?

Microsoft did show off multi touch capabilities and more when they unveiled the Surface table/computer, which occurred before the patent was granted to Apple. Maybe the patent only covers multi touch on the touchpad in regards to laptops.

By Dreifort on 2/11/2009 9:20:35 AM , Rating: 2
HP's TX2 features was out long before Dell's XT2.

RE: Then how does Windows 7 have multi-touch?
By afkrotch on 2/11/2009 12:29:17 PM , Rating: 1
Then how does Windows 7 have multi-touch without a peep out of Apple?

Microsoft is richer and could just buy Apple and screw the company over after that.

No need though, as Apple and Microsoft has been doing broad patent cross-licensing agreements for years. Apple gets Microsoft IP and Microsoft gets Apple IP.

1) Tons of ppl love having sex, why isn't it patented?
2) The patent covers the multi-touch on more than just a phone
3) Increased costs to other companies for something that has been around for years, prior to Apple's iPhone.

Hell, I'd see them losing any lawsuits anyways. Just point to a random movie that shows futuristic comps/phones doing the same thing, that came prior to the patent. Hell, Minority Report comes to mind.

By jabber on 2/12/2009 4:26:38 AM , Rating: 2
How much of Apple stock does MS own right now? IIRC its quite a lot, or it was at one point.

I think Gates dipped into his large pocket many years ago when Apple were on the brink of going under.

So chances are MS own a chunk already.

"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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