Despite the billowing success of the iPhone, recent studies show that Android is the number one mobile platform in the world. For companies that depend on it, the Google-powered Android operating system for mobile phones and tablets is free, and given Google's increasingly large war chest of intellectual property, it also serves a shield against stray bullets in the software patent wars. For some reason, the top officers in the Android army are showing signs of defecting. HTC chair Cher Wang told a Chinese newspaper that the Taiwanese company is thinking about buying an operating system, one that would presumably replace the Android software that currently powers its devices. Meanwhile, Samsung is releasing a new line of non-Android phones, and Microsoft is moving in with their long-awaited "Mango" phones. Is this the beginning of the end of the Android empire?
HTC's announcement comes at an odd time. Just last week, the company sued Apple using a bunch of patents they had recently acquired from Google. Some experts believed that the patent hand-off was a tacit show of support from Google for their third-party partners, one that would comfort Android partners in the face of Apple's aggressive patent tactics. With its growing market share and slick technology, HTC is fast becoming a serious competitor for Apple and prime target for patent litigation, but while they in no hurry to leave the Android ecosystem, they're starting to talk about it. "We have given it thought and we have discussed it internally, but we will not do it on impulse," Wang said on Monday. "We can use any OS we want."