Microsoft may be competing against Google’s Android, but it also makes money from it. And a new patent settlement with China’s Hon Hai means that the software giant continues to reap benefits from an industry in which its own products are lagging.
The software giant and the parent company of contract-manufacturing giant Foxconn have signed a deal under which Microsoft will receive patent royalties from products made by Foxconn customers that run Android or Chrome, Google’s mobile and desktop operating systems. Chrome and Android run on smartphones, tablets, e-readers and TVs. The two sides did not disclose terms of the deal.
“Foxconn’s clients don’t need to worry about infringing Microsoft’s patents anymore, because Foxconn has signed the agreement for them,” said Vincent Shih, chief legal officer of Microsoft Taiwan, according to Reuters. Shih also told Reuters that Microsoft now has agreements with 50 percent of the contract makers that make Android devices.
As we’ve mentioned in the past couple of years, Microsoft has secured patent deals with other big Android makers such as Samsung. LG and HTC, as well as Acer and Barnes & Noble. (See Microsoft’s Secret Smartphone Sauce: Google’s Android? and With Samsung Licensing Deal, Microsoft Has Google’s Android Number.) One major Android manufacturer that has yet to settle with Microsoft is Motorola Mobility — which of course is now owned by Google.
Android — Google does not (revised) charge to (end revised) license the open-source OS to smartphone and tablet manufacturers — is the world’s most-used mobile operating system. Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS shipped on about 3 percent of mobile devices shipped in the fourth quarter 2012, according to figures from research firm Gartner. (Apple’s iOS had 20 percent market share, while Android had 70 percent.) As the Guardian reported recently, Gartner warns that Microsoft desperately needs to make progress in the smartphone and tablet markets in the next few years as demand for PCs continues to fall.
Photo from Reuters archives