Published: 9 September, 2011
Microsoft has been on the warpath against Android for most of the year, demanding royalties for patents it claims within the Google OS. Now it has scored two more deals, with Acer and ViewSonic.
Unlike Apple, it is not looking to kill off rival products, but to remove one of Android's key advantages over its own WP7 - lack of licensing fees - at the same time as creating insecurity about the legal exposure of Android OEMs. In doing so, it can also generate a tidy revenue stream of an estimated $5 to $10 per handset or even more in some cases - currently a bigger deal than its own WP7 fees given the far larger base for the Google OS.
So far, Microsoft has signed licensing deals with long time ally and mobile Windows leader HTC, and with some smaller names; it is reported to be in talks with Samsung and demanding as much as $15 per device; and has sued Motorola Mobility.
The financial terms of its agreements with Acer and ViewSonic were not revealed and neither is a mass market supplier of Android products, but any win strengthens Microsoft's case and undermines the notion that Android is a free OS. As with previous deals, the new terms also apply to Google's other platform, Chrome OS, which integrates a browser with a thin Linux kernel. This highlights Microsoft's claims to IPR in the basic Linux platform, a very different situation from that of Apple, whose anti-Android suits are mainly related to patents in user interfaces or higher layers.
In a statement, Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's deputy general counsel for intellectual property and licensing, said the new pacts were part of a program "to help companies address Android's IP issues". Other signatories have included four smaller Android players - General Dynamics Itronix, Onkyo, Velocity Micro and Wistron.