Google and Samsung may have delayed new Nexus release over patent fears

Industry insider alleges the companies did not hold release of Android 4.0 device out of respect for memory of Steve Jobs

A mobile industry insider is calling shenanigans on Samsung and Google, saying the companies' decision to postpone today's scheduled release of the new Android 4.0-powered Samsung Nexus Prime had nothing to do with paying respect to Jobs and everything to do with the ongoing mobile patent wars among Apple, Google, and Samsung.

The accusation came via Twitter from Eldar Murtazin, editor in chief at Mobile-Review.com. His tweet read: "Nexus Prime and Android 4.0 are under question. Google removing some features which are subject of patent war. No timeline for this job."

Android 4.0 marks an important release of the mobile platform, as it's the first version of the platform designed to run both on smartphones and tablets, a la iOS.

Murtazin's allegation directly contradict claims put forth by both Samsung and Google, who had initially planned to roll out the much anticipated smartphone loaded with "Ice Cream Sandwich-y" goodness today at CTIA. Last Friday, the companies surprised observers by announcing they were delaying release of the device out of respect for Jobs, who tragically died of cancer last Wednesday. "We decided it was not the right time to announce a new product while the world was expressing tribute to Steve Jobs's passing," a Samsung spokesperson told Reuters.

Meanwhile, an unnamed source at Google told Computerworld on Monday that "the delay was not due to any technical problems with Ice Cream Sandwich or the Nexus Prime," which leaves open the possibility that the move was out of respect for Jobs -- or for fear of forthcoming court decisions over patent infringements.

The notion that Google and Samsung delayed the release for reasons pertaining to patents does seem entirely plausible. Google, Samsung, and Apple (along with seemingly every other mobile player in the world) have been locked in patent battles for some time now. Apple and Samsung, in fact, are scheduled to face off in Dutch, Korean, Japanese, American, and Australian courtrooms this week. It will be interesting to see what comes out of those hearings, particularly in regard to features planned for Android 4.0, for which Apple may indeed hold patents.

German-based patent issues blogger Florian Mueller, who writes for Fosspatents.com, told Computerworld that there's a "50 percent probability that [Murtazin's] assumption is accurate. Given the acrimonious fight that is going on between Apple and Samsung, it's possible that Google and Samsung are particularly careful to steer clear of infringing Apple's patents to the greatest extent possible. Google has previously removed functionality from the Android codebase to work around patents held by Apple, such as in connection with list scrolling."

As of today, no new release date for Nexus Prime has been announced.

This story, "Google and Samsung may have delayed new Nexus release over patent fears," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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