updated 02:05 pm EDT, Thu August 4, 2011
Asymco shows Microsoft leaning on Android lawsuits
Microsoft is still profiting more from Android royalties than its own Windows Phone platform. Going on estimates of 1.4 million Windows phones shipping in the spring, Asymco's Horace Dediu said Microsoft would have made just $21 million from all its partners assuming WP7 costs $15 per phone. Even at HTC's widely leaked $5, 'discounted' royalty rate, its 12 million phones, almost all of them Android, would have given Microsoft $60 million.
Officially, Microsoft hasn't divulged WP7 shipment numbers after the start of the year but has admitted collective sales were still very small. It has also kept mum on how much it demands from companies using Android. Samsung is reportedly being asked $15 because it remains a faithful Windows Phone partner, but companies that can't or won't use a Microsoft product may be punished for it. Barnes & Noble has accused Microsoft of demanding exorbitant rates because it not only can't use Windows but is making tablet-sized hardware that, to Microsoft, is a threat to its computer business.
A recent breakdown of Microsoft's approach to patents from TechRadar has suggested that Microsoft, as one of the strongest patent holders in the world, treats patents both as currency for trading with companies but also as a way of 'influencing' platform choices. As far back as 2005, it used an Exchange license to Nokia that was mutually beneficial to both sides but which mostly helped Microsoft, by encouraging Nokia to use Microsoft's Windows Media platform instead of RealNetworks.
The current approach towards Android follows in a similar vein but is closer to the aggressive approach Microsoft has taken towards Linux, where a pact with Novell along with its own patent portfolio has seen it try to "tax" Linux by claiming it has inherent ownership rights. Many have argued that neither the Linux nor Android claims have ever been seriously tested in court and that Microsoft might be counting on this to get its way. Of those Microsoft has pressed on Android so far, only Motorola has fought back.