This is posted in the "Know your rights" section.
A couple of quick items:
- Android is released under the Apache license. So skyhook and any handset manufacturer, if they don't like the direction google is taking the platform, can do whatever they want to the software. This is the definition of open source.
- Conversely, open source doesn't mean skyhook can force a developer to do something. Lots of business who want to make money by inclusion in a project get upset when open source projects say no. See Reiser or any other open source bug tracker.
- On top of the apache licensed Android, Google provides a set of pretty popular apps (Google Apps). Most but not all manufacturers use those apps. My guess is that if you pick up these apps, then that is where google is saying you have to use their location based service. So far these apps are good enough people generally use them, but eventually Microsoft or some other big player will pay enough $$ to a manufacturer that google maps / google search etc will go away on some handsets.
- Google also offers the Android Market, another natural place of control. Many OS Distro's use marketplaces, update channels etc to monetize their platform. This also obviously creates lock-in.
- Almost every open source project doesn't let you take their brand with your changes. So if you want to make lots of changes you probably can't call your OS "Android" vs Sense or MotoBlur. This also is common to Mozilla, Redhat etc etc. Mozilla was really picky about this (see Iceweasel).
- Skyhook is suing Google for violating it's patents on doing location. This includes ""Server for Updating Location Beacon Database". Reading these patents will make you wish software patents were toned down a bit I think.
- Skyhook is itself not an open source contribution to the handset, but apparently a pretty costly proprietary app on top of the handset with big royalties and patents with no patent pledges. In other words, if someone tries to do location service and to give it away for free, prepare to be sued by Skyhook.
- Apple dropped Skyhook from the iphone 4 I believe? Be interesting to know why given they had been a customer and skyhook claims to have the best tech.
- Open source being "nice". Big business in open source seem to still plan on using the layers above to fight for $.
So some shades of grey in this :) Be interesting to see how the case evolves.