Is it the sought after Courier tablet coming back from the dead? Is it the Xbox 720? What is it that Microsoft is working on? Well here is the answer in one simple word, Android. Microsoft has been on a tear lately with going after companies who infringe on their patents, news today of Viewsonic and Acer joining companies such as Velocity Micro, HTC, Onkyo, and Samsung(?) who already pay licensing fees. I think Timothy B. Lee said it best in his Forbes.com article entitled “Microsoft’s Android Shakedown“. Microsoft clearly has an extensive number of patents. Are some being infringed upon? Certainly. Where companies, like Microsoft, are starting to draw the line is in areas where competition is fierce, mobile.
With Google taking the top spot in OS market share, with Apple following close behind, Microsoft is finding itself playing catch up in a space it was a major player in, only a few years ago. As we all know by now, Apple shook up the entire smartphone market, no, the whole electronics market, with the announcement of the iPhone back in 2007. Google was the first company to try to go head to head with Apple by releasing the G1 in 2008. Microsoft introduced their Windows Phone OS to replace the aging Windows Mobile platform in 2010, and has been facing an uphill battle ever since. With the most recent ComScore numbers having Microsoft’s Windows Phone with 5.7% and Google’s Android with 41.8%, Microsoft could use all the help it could get to gain some market share. This seems to be a means to an end. Microsoft will make as much money off of their competition, just so they can turn around and use it to directly compete with them. Will this tactic work? I think in the long run it can be beneficial as a source of revenue, but as to its legitimacy in stopping Android’s growth, I’m still on the fence.
Nonetheless, Microsoft will continue to demand licensing fees from manufacturers, some of which they have partnerships with. These companies will then have to decide if it’s worth the headache to go to court over the patent dispute, or just pay up. So far, paying up has been the choice, maybe wisely. Lets just hope these companies can continue to make strides in the mobile market without having to pick sides or suffocate the competition.