Nexus Prime smartphone, Android 4.0 delayed over patent dispute?

'Plugged-in' blogger Eldar Murtazin cites legal concerns with mobile OS update

A Russian blogger has asserted that the Samsung Nexus Prime smartphone and Android 4.0, also known as Ice Cream Sandwich, are "under question" over patent disputes with no timeline for an outcome.

Both the phone and software were expected to be unveiled at an industry press event today, although Google and Samsung said they delayed the event in tribute to the passing last week of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

The comment, posted on Twitter by blogger Eldar Murtazin early Tuesday, reads: "Nexus Prime and Android 4.0 are under question. Google removing some features which are subject of patent war. No timeline for this job."

Murtazin has been described by GBR.com as a "plugged-in Russian blogger [who] has a solid track record with inside information." He is also the editor-in-chief of MobileReview.com, a digest of cell phones that can be ordered from the site.

Murtazin posted his tweet to explain why the Tuesday event at the CTIA conference was delayed by Google and Samsung. Both were expected to show Ice Cream Sandwich running on the Nexus Prime, which has been widely expected to ship in late October or November on Verizon Wireless.

Google said last week and again on Monday that the delay was made because it was "not the right time to announce a new product as the world expresses tribute to Steve Jobs' passing."

A Google official who asked not be named also said on Monday that the delay was not due to any technical problems with Ice Cream Sandwich or the Nexus Prime.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for reaction to the Murtazin tweet. Neither did Murtazin respond to a request asking how he knew Google is removing features from Nexus Prime or Android 4.0.

Samsung and other Androidmanufacturers are fighting patent battles with Apple in courts in many countries, making a delay over patent issues plausible.

Florian Mueller, a German-based patent issues blogger who writes Fosspatents.com, said he saw Murtazin's tweet on Tuesday and noted that he has been "spot-on with some things he's said, but not always."

Mueller added: "I think there's a 50% probability that this 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."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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