Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Galaxy Nexus sales halted at Google Play as preliminary injunction goes into effect

If you thought there was no teeth - or perhaps, no nuclear material - attached to Steve Jobs' threat to go thermonuclear on Android, you'd be wrong. Apple has posted the $96 million bond on the Galaxy Nexus preliminary injunction, and with that, the device is no longer for sale in the Google Play store.

If you go to the Google Play store, you no longer see a reference to a "Nexus Store," where you could buy the Galaxy Nexus along with the Nexus 7, but instead just a reference to the Nexus 7 tablet. This is obviously a result of the preliminary injunction imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh against U.S. Galaxy Nexus smartphone sales.

However, if you look a little harder, drilling down into the devices section of the Play store, you can find the Galaxy Nexus still listed. Instead of allowing you to purchase the phone, however, you can only enter your email address in order to be notified when it is again available.

We can report that those who ordered Galaxy Nexus devices from the Play Store as late as last Friday appear to be receiving shipment notifications, so earlier device orders are still shipping to customers.

Since Apple has coughed up the nearly $96 million bond it was required to post to protect Samsung from losses incurred in case the Galaxy Nexus preliminary injunction was later ruled invalid, all signals are "go" for the sales ban to go into effect, which is apparently has.

Meanwhile, Google has confirmed that while the Galaxy Nexus is currently no longer for sale at the Play Store, the device will begin shipping again next week. Earlier, Google and Samsung said they planned a software patch to circumvent the patent issues addressed by the injunction.

The company also said that the devices that will go on sale next week will include Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean), so the fix apparently will be incorporated into the upgrade that other Galaxy Nexus owners will receive OTA.

The patent in question is U.S. Patent 8,086,604, which covers “unified search functionality." In summary, it's about searching not just the Web, but across the entire platform from one interface.

-->A patch would essentially "dumb down" the quick search bar on the Android homescreen, limiting its results to just those from the Web. However, and this is good news for those looking forward to Android 4.1's Google Now feature, that functionality is safe from this patent.

We're unclear as to how that is, but that's what Google says. Since the 8,086,604 patent has been an issue for some time, we're sure Google's lawyers know what they are doing.

As we said, however, if Google really wants to take the fight to Apple and Siri, it should attempt to disconnect Google Now from Jelly Bean and make it a separate app, which can be installed on Android 4.0 devices (at least). Otherwise it will be months - if not longer - before Google Now is on sufficient devices to be relevant in the market.

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