updated 09:50 am EDT, Thu September 8, 2011
Microsoft gets Acer, ViewSonic to pay for Android
Microsoft continued its campaign of profiting from Android's success on Thursday with new patent licensing deals through Acer and ViewSonic. The deals will see each pay royalties for their Android devices, such as the Iconia Smart and ViewPads. In spite of Acer being one of the first Chromebook makers, only ViewSonic of the two will also pay royalties for any Chrome OS devices it makes.
The deals mark a renewal in Microsoft's efforts after a few months of quiet. Most of its earlier deals were focused on smaller companies located primarily in Japan or the US. Acer and ViewSonic are both located in Taiwan and suggest Microsoft is conducting its campaign on a region-by-region basis.
Its strategy is identical to that it has taken against Linux, where it assumes an effective ownership of the OS through patents. Microsoft has largely counted on companies not having the resources or will to challenge the validity of its patents and is currently only facing opposition from Motorola, which is losing ground in its case. Google's attempts to link openness in Android to a lack of patent issues has often been called into question, but many have considered Microsoft's claimed rights tenuous.
Concernes have been raised about the anti-competitiveness of the deals given that companies like HTC, and possibly Samsung, Acer, and ViewSonic, are being handed 'discounts' on royalties if they also make Windows- and Windows Phone-based products. Unofficial estimates further point to Microsoft making more from Android than Windows Phone and assert that it's compensating for an inability to compete. Microsoft has more recently portrayed Google as ironically using the same strategy it used itself to gain a monopoly in a field by giving away for free what its competitors had to sell.