Microsoft cements position as Android's patent toll collector

Microsoft is going to make money from almost every Android device shipped.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Samsung's move to license Microsoft patents for its Android devices means that the software giant as secured its position as toll collector for most devices powered by Google's mobile operating system.


You see new Android Samsung phone. Microsoft sees licensing revenue.

Some will argue that these Microsoft-Android licensing deals are heresy and a sign of a patent system run amok. For these folks, the Samsung deal is a sign of a broader problem. Others will argue that Microsoft is just exercising its intellectual property rights. No matter what side you take it's hard not to notice the irony that Microsoft is going to make money from almost every Android device shipped.

Microsoft said in a blog post that Samsung and HTC both signed licensing deals and the two together "accounted for more than half of all Android phones sold in the U.S." Motorola Mobility, which was acquired by Google, is the holdout. Motorola and Microsoft are currently in court. If Microsoft wins in court, it's possible that Google will even have to pay the software giant---assuming the search giant closes the Motorola Mobility deal.

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For Microsoft, these Android licensing deals with Samsung, Acer, General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro, ViewSonic and Wistron show that "licensing works." From a business model and competitive perspective, Microsoft's moves on the licensing front are brilliant. If Android wins, Microsoft gets a licensing stream. If Windows Phone takes off Microsoft also collects. Add it up and Microsoft has two horses in the mobile OS race.

According to Microsoft these licensing deals "show what can be achieved when companies sit down and address intellectual property issues in a responsible manner." Microsoft then targeted Google and said that if "industry leaders such as Samsung and HTC can enter into these agreements, doesn’t this provide a clear path forward."

The path forward for Android appears to be licensing patents from others. Microsoft has its hand in the Android pie and don't be surprised if Oracle ultimately does too.

Android is increasingly looking like a highway: A public resource that features a lot of tolls along the way.


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