SOFTWARE LICENCE FLOGGER Microsoft is doing rather well out of Google's Android, managing to snap up another company to make money from Google's operating system.
The Vole has announced that Wistron, a firm that designs and manufacturers devices for other companies, signed a licensing deal to use its patents that allegedly apply to Google's Android operating system. The deal means that Microsoft has managed to flog 'Android licences' to four companies.
Last month Microsoft announced that it had signed up US defence contractor General Dynamics Itronix and last week it revealed that audio-visual equipment maker Onkyo had also licensed its patents. Add to that Velocity Micro, Wistron and smartphone maker HTC all paying Microsoft to use Android and it seems the Redmond firm is making Android work for it, despite having written none of the software.
Brad Smith, Microsoft's general counsel tweeted, "Our Wistron deal today makes for four Android patent license agreements in nine days. (No need to calculate pi to figure that one out.)" The reference to pi was Google's highest bid in last week's auction of Nortel's patent portfolio.
Now Reuters has reported that Microsoft is going for the big one, Samsung, asking the firm to pay $15 for every Android device it makes. If Microsoft manages to pull this off, it could generate a very significant chunk of revenue thanks to the popularity of Samsung's Galaxy smartphones and tablets. Samsung also makes Windows Phone 7 (WP7) smartphones, for which it pays WP7 operating system licensing fees to Microsoft.
Microsoft has claimed that Android is not free for device manufacturers and that buying licences to use Google's mobile operating system is the only way to avoid litigation over possible patent infringements.
The Vole has already sued US bookstore Barnes and Noble and Chinese manufacturer Foxconn over the use of Android on the popular Nook ebook reader, and it seems that more Android device makers are signing up, believing it might be prudent not to end up mired in legal battles with Microsoft's lawyers.
There is a fair amount of irony attached to Microsoft's Android licensing deals. Google doesn't make a penny from its Android operating system directly, and it appears likely that Microsoft is making more money from licensing patents for Android devices than it is from flogging WP7. µ
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