Yesterday, Microsoft announced its latest Android licensing deal with Taiwanese manufacturer Compal, marking the company's tenth such agreement to date. While such a small manufacturer in terms of market share makes little overall difference in Microsoft's profits derived from Android, its deals with HTC and Samsung, combined with various smaller manufacturers like Compal, means it now receives royalties from over half of all Android smartphones sold in the US (the figure may be even larger on a global scale).


The major holdouts on the graphic above are Motorola Mobility and LG, though Moto is obviously the majority of that 47% chunk of green. Microsoft has been fighting fiercely in the ITC and federal court to pressure Motorola into a deal, which it seems before the Google acquisition was all but inevitable. With Google's purchase of Motorola, those plans may have been put on hold indefinitely.

Microsoft also published an interesting Android licensing relationship visual that shows who's seeking to make a few bucks from the current mobile OS leader:


While this graphic doesn't include some of the major manufacturers (like ASUS and LG), it gives a good sense of how the Android patent war is progressing. While no manufacturer has yet caved to Apple's patent infringement claims (it's unclear if Apple even wants to settle), it's clear that Microsoft has had a large degree of success in its licensing campaign.

If Motorola makes a deal with Microsoft, it will all but cement the legitimacy of Microsoft's patent infringement allegations, forcing smaller players in the Android handset game to make a deal, or risk the wrath of Microsoft's legal department. Given that HTC and Samsung have already accepted Microsoft's offer, any continued resistance to licensing from Motorola is hard to look at with anything but a skeptical eye. Notably, HTC and Samsung do manufacture Windows Phone 7 handsets as well as Android phones, while Motorola has dedicated its smartphone lineup to Android alone for the past 2 years.

Google's acquisition of Motorola has likely raised the stakes of the patent dispute with Microsoft, as a deal with Motorola would be, at best, a tangential admittance of defeat by Google. While Google has expressed they wish to operate Motorola Mobility "at arm's length," there's little denying the two now have an undivided interest in the continued success and IP viability of the Android platform.

Microsoft TechNet Blog via AllThingsD

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Jose

    In before angry Android users cry about Microsoft making money out of patents and spout things such as M$ and Mafiasoft.

    Personally, I think it's quite clever from a business perspective that Microsoft to gain these royalties.

    • http://verb0ze.net verboze

      The beauty of Android is its licensing model (or lack of royalties to use the platform), and this has attracted manufacturers far and wide. Now that MS is starting to collect on the platform, surely will it reduce its adoption. Good move for MS with their crappy mobile OS no one wants to buy, bad move for us consumers who love the variety the Android platform has to offer :/ Personally, I'm glad Google purchased Moto & its patent portfolio. Hope they will never settle for this, push the platform further, and own the experience end to end, the way Apple does with the iPhone.

  • dude

    I agree, I am actually really glad that when I purchased my HTC Thunderbolt that I was helping Google, HTC, Microsoft, and Qualcomm, and thereby hurting Apple from multiple directions!

    • http://verb0ze.net verboze

      I root for Android but I have much respect for Apple for coming and changing an entire industry. Surely the Microsofts and Palms have had years ahead in the game to innovate. They needed a wake up call. In just a few years, Apple took what was considered technology suited for the professional/techie and made it commodity. Google stepped behind and took that even further and made smartphones available to literally EVERYONE who could afford cellular service. While I don't agree with Apple's patents and the way they sometimes litigate, I can understand why they do it; it saves them from becoming food for these lazy companies who've gotten too lazy to build anything interesting of their own.

      • Nocturnhabeo

        Lazy? Since when is following a standard lazy. The entire world is not created on new ideas it is standing on those who went before and adding to the base. If you create your own thing then yeah you get the whole cake to yourself but it is incredibly risky and often falls flat on its face. Just because people are trying to fight for their piece of the pie they are adding to they aren't lazy.

      • jaamgans

        Looking at iOS5 I could say the same thing about Apple and how lazy they have become in taking a lot of features that Android provides.

        The only novel feature is Siri - though this is really just much better implemented than we have seen anywhere else, as its always been available on quite a few operating systems. So even this isn't really innovation but merely being lazy......

        You should listen to Nocturnhabeo more as he really has the right of it.

        • http://verb0ze.net verboze

          You're missing the point. I'm not arguing that Apple invented its "own thing" called the smart phone and all the features of it. I'm saying that Apple revolutionized the way people use smart phones and made them more accessible to the average person; they built a great hardware/OS/app ecosystem back in 2008 when smart phones had physical keyboards, tons of buttons, LCD for touch screens, and you bought apps on SD cards or from 50 different places on the web (I'm sure people are forgetting, but that's what the leading smart phones amounted to back then). What Apple did was pure innovation. Of course all technology companies build on top of existing work; that is the very definition of innovation. Please enlighten me on how following standards prevented the likes of MS and Palm, who have been leading the market for years, from doing the same?

        • Paul

          I agree with verboze. Windows Mobile 6.5 and even Palm OS were in the game first. They messed up by not seeing the future. The hardware was clunky and the software wasn't much better. While I enjoyed being able to go to a site, download a cab file and install it on my WinMo 6.5 phone (I was using smartphones before smartphones were cool), having a central repository was a nice idea. Apple saw the future win both MS and Palm didn't and created the iPhone and because of it, crushed WinMo and Palm. Google stepped in and said "why does it have to run on Apple hardware only?" and created Android and released it to all manufacturers and made Android available across all price points. Want a keyboard (I like them), fine. Want a front facing camera? fine. Want NFC? etc. etc. they made it more available and gave more options and now their giving Apple's iPhone a headache. When Android 1st came out thousands and thousands of Apple fans said it'd never amount to anything, and now they're eating those words. But I'm not so pro-Android that I'd be against another company creating an OS faster/smoother/better/superior to Android and releasing it to all manufacturers like Android did. As long as it offers freedom of choice and innovation. But we definitely owe it to Apple to give Android an target to strive to meet and exceed. Do you honestly think Android would be where it is today if it weren't for Apple?

    • Double

      LOL, smart move!
      You've really thought this trough, haven't you?

  • djembeman

    It's total bull crap that MS should make any money on Android phones!!!! Unless of course a carrier or manufacturer is dumb enough to put Bing on an Android phone.

  • Edd

    To be fair to Microsoft (which I rarely am), at least their patents seem to be based on truthful, relevant patents, rather than Apple's vague, obscure attempts. It does make me laugh how Android is the latest member of the Microsoft family, and making them soooo much more money than that late piece of crap WP7!... (Crap is a strong word and it's fine in many ways, just so late, without app support, and very locked in to Microsoft products)

    • Paul

      WP7 isn't "bad" per say, it's just too little too late. Reviews I've seen don't rate it as better or worst to Android or iPhone but rate it as "different". They tried to do what Nintendo did and side-step the competition by coming out with a whole new interface/look/feel. Nintendo couldn't beat PS3 and XBox in graphics, so they smoked them in the interface. WP7 tried it but didn't do so well. Not enough apps and support, but I wouldn't rate it as "bad". In fact, I admire MS for creating warehouses dedicated to stress testing every potential WP7 phone and making sure the hardware is stable, and even the OS is stable. They do this before allowing the manufacturer to put WP7 on the phone. They even require certain button layouts and uniformity between the devices. They took the freedom that Android allows (multiple carriers), and the stability that Apple has with the iPhone and combined it. I really admire them for that and wish Google could do the same. Put every Android phone through rigorous testing, require certain uniformity between the models, etc. before allowing Android to be on the phone. I have a Samsung phone with Touchwiz and my wife has a HTC phone with SenseUI and it's insane how radically different the phones and Android is. The bloatware sucks, I had to root them first thing and remove all the junk installed.
      Now that Google Android is mainstream enough, Google needs to start being a hard-case about things. I wish they'd tell manufacturers "ICS will only be available to you if you don't put your overlay on it". Meaning all ICS phones are pure. Maybe they could skin it in the sense of background, colors, icons, but the overall thing would be the same across all manufacturers. At the very least I wish ICS would allow the user, upon setup, to choose between manufacturer overlay or clean/vanilla/pure experience. I do like that ICS now allows you to 'lock' an app, preventing it from running and use any resources and from showing up in your apps list. So that should help with the bloatware that AT&T/Verizon/T-mobile/Sprint/LG/Samsung/HTC/Motorola/Samsung installs.