World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

Summary: Who makes the most money from Android is an open question, but according to Goldman Sachs, with an estimated $444-million Microsoft is probably in the running.


Measuring a profit can be a complicated thing my accounting friends tell me. For example, Google, which controls Android, is certainly making money from it, but how much? But, what if you're making $444 million from Android and you actually didn't have to spend any money on research and development or programming? You'd be doing great wouldn't you? Well, welcome to Microsoft's business plan for Android.

According to a Goldman Sachs' tech analyst note, as reported by Business Insider, that's exactly how Microsoft is cashing in on Android. Goldman Sachs estimates that Microsoft will pick up $444-million in revenue from its Android patent deals for fiscal year 2012. For those of you playing at home, that's $3-$6 per Android device. Yes, that may well be more than Microsoft makes from its own troubled mobile operating systems.

That's nice work if you can get it. We still don't know exactly how much Microsoft is getting from its cross-licensing patent deals with Samsung and other Android manufacturers. We don't even know what patents Microsoft is being paid for.

Of the big Android device makers, only Motorola, which is being bought by Google, hasn't paid Microsoft off yet. Microsoft is well aware of this. In a salvo in the Microsoft/Motorola patent war, Brad Smith and Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's General Counsel & Deputy General Counsel, blogged, "Motorola Mobility [is] the only major Android smartphone manufacturer in the U.S. without a license."

Considering that Google is buying Motorola Mobility for its mobile patents, I doubt we'll see Google/Motorola paying off Microsoft without a lot of courtroom fighting. After all, a Google spokesperson responded to news of the Samsung deal by saying, "This is the same tactic we've seen time and again from Microsoft. Failing to succeed in the smartphone market, they are resorting to legal measures to extort profit from others' achievements and hinder the pace of innovation. We remain focused on building new technology and supporting Android partners."

Yes, there's no love lost here!

Enjoy your Android profits while you can Microsoft, I foresee legal costs eating into your profit margin, no matter how you measure them, in the years to come.

Related Stories:

Microsoft pulls in $444 million per year from Android patents

Microsoft's Samsung Android Patent Troll Win

Microsoft cements position as Android's patent toll collector

Samsung signs Microsoft patent licensing deal to cover Android devices

Microsoft adds Casio to its Linux patent-protection list

Topics: Android, Google, Legal, Microsoft, Mobility

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  • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

    It seems you conviently forgot one priceless response to your <b>Lover</b> "Google" legal team. Go to twitter and search for @fxshaw and see what he replied to Google after that yesterday. It was simple one word response to Google's 48 words bickering, "Waaaah". FYI, MMI's issue will be settled even before Google gets it merged, and Google ends up paying MSFT for the same reason. Only checkbooks will change. Sorry you lose.
    Ram U
    • Mr. Vaughan-Nichols' logic is flawed.

      Which is why he can not understand what is happening, and always comes to the incorrect conclusion at the end of his articles.

      [i]what if you???re making $444 million from Android and you actually didn???t have to spend any money on research and development or programming[/i]

      The problem with his statement is that in truth, Microsoft did spend the money on research and developement, it was Google that bypassed that hurdle by incorporating Microsoft's IP into their Android OS without paying Microsoft for it, thus elininating the cost of research, development and programming.

      Then again, history has shown that Mr. Vaughan-Nichols does not allow a simple thing like facts a chance to appear in his arguments.
      Tim Cook
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @Mister Spock Can you explain in any specific way what aspect of MSFT "R&D" you believe was "stolen" to create Android.

        WHAT do you believe was taken, and how was it stolen?
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?


        You will not get a logical answer.
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @daikon The best factual claim I've managed to find on what Android "stole" is that one of the _test_ vectors used to prove their implementation of Java was accurate was copied from a third party. This seemed to ignore the stunningly obvious details that test code doesn't ship with Android, doesn't make the device do anything, and that if you want to prove you've got an accurate implementation of a standard you kinda gotta test against some sort of reference at some point that isn't material you typed up yourself.
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @Mister Spock

        1) the FAT, xFAT, FATx, exFAT, FAT12, FAT16, FAT32,
        2) activesync,
        3) EAS,
        4) patented GUI elements, eg. notification bar (however, paul allen Microsot's co-founder seems to want to take credit for this one).
        5) PnP,
        6) Battery and signal Notification (it's not just the notification, but how the OS interacts with the battery and radio and relays the info to the user),
        7) Bluetooth miniport patent (which has a number of other related patents),
        8) OBEX (file transfer via bluetooth), it's shocking, but Microsoft has patents for this (ms-irda), this was released open standards I believe, however Microsoft has related patents that are actually important for ms-irda.
        just to name a new.
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @blazing_smiley_face Um... last I checked, there is no form of any FAT file system anywhere in Android. Why should MSFT get money for inventing a crappy PC filesystem which isn't used by Android?

        The other things you mention are also not present in Android, and or they represent exactly what I've been talking about - wildly overly broad claims to own any example of any device signalling that the battery is running down when the car that I owned 30 years ago had a stunningly similar warning light when the battery went low. Oops.
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @spark555<br><br>Well, with that, I will grant you the benefit of the doubt, in-as-much as Amazon is concerned. I'm not above well proven logic, of which you have displayed. That is not a proper position to take. But, I wouldn't say "no one" can identify the claims, as there are parties in each individual action which must be granted view of the opposing parties evidence and dispute. I've only reasoned out things based on percentages of those that are privy to knowledge not given to the general public. Why Amazon chooses to take the unpopular (as you have yourself admitted, when considering the percentages of those that accept/deny accusations) position of fighting back may be due to their particular regime of patents (over and above other parties involved) which may prove suitable defensively, for Amazon. My underlying argument is that until Microsoft's patent claims become public knowledge (as well as Amazon's counterclaims), I'm in no position, nor is anyone else outside the 'know', to discern the most likely, or most judicious outcome. My only contention with your statements (as I referred to in my allusion to Schroedinger's cat, later) is what I percieved as your ill-assumed stake to some form of self proclaimed expert in these matters. No one, outside the MS v. Infringing Party could claim perfect remedy, as no one other than said parties hold all evidence. This holds true on a case-by-case basis, and not as a general rule.<br><br>Hopefully, what I've said, and the measured method I've taken with this particular statement, will assure you that your contentions have been heard, understood, and appreciated as such. I do not seek to defame your character, despite earlier rivalrous repertoire. I'm merely pointing out the lack of public information to make such claims.
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @FuzzyBunnySlippers Amazon and several others are refusing to license, and saying they'll fight it in court and prove there's no meaningful infringement.

        Based on your own logic - why would anyone go to trial if the still-completely-undefined-claim-of-stealing-something-no-one-can-seem-to-indentify was true?
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @spark555 Put a FAT32 formatted card in an Android device and it will read it. FAT32 drivers are a core component of the kernel. It might not be the default files system, but it is one that they can use.
      • MSFT cannot sue Google for fear of losing

        @Mister Spock,
        If it was true that MS had invented these things and Google copied them, then Microsoft wouldn't be trying to hide the patents. Rather they'd come and out say 'Google violates this patent and that patent and so we're taking them to court'.

        The simple fact that they're doing this SCO like game shows how fraudulent their claim is. Their own actions condemn them.

        What's noticeable is that the only companies settling are the ones with Windows licensing deals, some like Casio don't make any Linux devices, yet MS claims they bought a license to Linux?!

        So there's some sort of forwards and backwards going on there. If you look at how desperate Ballmer is to succeed, my guess is he's burning through lots of cash to get people to pretend 'buy' licenses. But if that is happening and he's presenting a false inflated value of Microsoft's IP.

        Certainly their claims won't stand up in court, which is why they're never taken Google to court.
      • Good thing merely reading FAT32 isn't patented, then

        <i>"Put a FAT32 formatted card in an Android device and it will read it."</i>

        I believe the MS patent refers to <b>writing</b> long file names in FAT32, not reading them. Anyway, the FAT32 patent has already been worked around:
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?


        you say things I mentioned or not in Android? really? ok, lets go down the list. I'm about to head out to work, so I might not finish the list.

        FAT filesystem and it's iterations. you ever wondered how come you can just plug out an SD-card from an android device and plug it in to a windows PC and it just works? it works because of the FAT file system, you can format an SD-card to any of those FAT systems and plug it into an Android phone and it works. that's because Android is using Microsoft's patented technologies here. yeah, it's there in android

        activesync and EAS, deals with the delivering notification, etc. of contacts, calendar, email and so forth. yeah, gmail, calendar, contact sync? last time I checked they're all in android.

        Notification bar at the top and battery meter? yeah, it's there in android.

        PnP, this is Plug and Play. patented by Microsoft.

        Bluetooth miniport and obex. sigh. I thought everybody knows what obex was. this has to do with Bluetooth file transfer where you can connect a phone to a Bluetooth device and if that devce supports obex and mini port, you can then Bluetooth files etc, over to that device. Microsoft has patents essential to Obex, obex itself is open standard. miniport is patented.

        you might not know it but they're present in android.
      • There's nothing &quot;core&quot; about FAT32 support

        @wright_is<br><i>"FAT32 drivers are a core component of the kernel."</i><br><br>Don't be silly. The FAT32 file system is a kernel module that can be removed <u>in an instant</u>.
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @Mister Spock
        M$ resorts to FUD and racketeering in its last ditch efforts to survive:
        The new M$ motto is if you can't compete on merits, sue!
        The Linux Geek
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?


        You do know Microsoft pushes for software patent reform more than just about any other company right? But until that happens they fall victim to frivolous lawsuits on a regular basis. Remember the formatting issue in Word 2007 documents? Silly stuff. But Microsoft is going to defend their own IP and expect to be paid for it. I know you think that because e-mail sync should be a "given", but the actual implementation of ActiveSync requires a license fee. Apple pays it as well. There are other patents, such as FAT32, which every copy of Linux technically violates.

        The biggest problem is Google "gives" Android away free, letting the OEMs defend themselves one by one. Rather than licensing the OS to the OEMs so Google would then take on Microsoft and Apple directly. They aren't doing that so the OEMs are the ones violating patents with embedded software and therefore they are the ones being sued.
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @spark555 - As the terms of the agreement are not public, the answer is "No, it cannot be factually stated what aspects of MSFT "R&D" was stolen." Just because we can't determine exactly what they are paying for does NOT negate the fact that Microsoft believed they were being infringed upon and the handset makers agreed to the point of paying MS for it.
      • Let's Be Clear About FAT - Patent Only on Long/Short Filename Conversion

        We should all be clear about the so-called FAT patents. There are no patents on FAT itself, whichever version you are talking about. The only patents are on the system that Microsoft used to index files with a short filename, but display them with a long one. At this point, the short to long (and vice versa) filename conversion is only still used for legacy support. It's not really necessary any more.

        This also wasn't the only such system invented. It just happened to be the one Microsoft used. The only thing that made it worth anything at all is the fact that Windows recognized it by default (with no software installation necessary), and Windows was dominant enough that everyone wanted/needed to be compatible with it or else had to forgo long filenames. Camera companies, for example, have generally avoided these patents by having cameras name files with a simple 8.3 filename and forgetting about long filenames.

        Even though these patents would be valueless without the Windows monopoly, they probably have one of the best cases for being a valid software patent. That's because, though it's far from the only way to accomplish the task, this method actually is unique (although you could easily argue that being obscured by the abundance of possible alternatives is not really a basis for saying that the patent is not obvious),
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @Mister Spock
        Truth Speaks! Preach on Brother! The whining wieners will get it someday??
      • RE: World's most profitable Android company? Microsoft!?

        @wright_is The FAT file system has existed since the 1980's... patents last for 20 years. Do the math.