The Android 4.2 was unveiled a day back and the focal point is that it can support many users on a single Android-powered device. But there is a catch – multiple users can only be supported on Android 4.2 tablets and not phones.
According to TechCrunch, the restriction is because of a patent known as “Multi-user mobile telephone”. The patent got approval in 2005 and was registered by then-current Symbian employee Tim O'Cock. The patent is now in Nokia Corporation (ADR)(NYSE:NOK)’s hands as it is assigned to Tim O'Cock and Symbian Limited. It was filed with the intention of generating revenue by offering a user-friendly platform where different people can share one phone in areas where mobile phones are costly.
This patent is a major obstacle to those companies that want to provide this feature even though Nokia has not used the multiple user facility in any of its products till date. They will have to complete all licensing formalities with Nokia before they can implement the technology in their products.
Google has devised a way out of this situation by offering this feature in tablets, as the patent is applicable to mobile telephones only. If the patent covered mobile communications devices, then it would have been a sticky situation indeed. But if the feature is present in tablets, it is quite likely that someone will find a way around the patent and enable it on handsets too.