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The Almighty Buck Android Businesses Cellphones Google Handhelds Microsoft Operating Systems

Microsoft's Most Profitable Mobile Operating System: Android 309

Posted by timothy
from the profit-through-judo dept.
puddingebola writes "Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has a piece of commentary discussing Microsoft's profit from their patent claims on Android. From the article, 'To some, Windows 8 is a marketplace failure. But its flop has been nothing compared to Microsoft's problems in getting anyone to use its Windows Phone operating systems. You don't need to worry about Microsoft's bottom line though. Thanks to its Android patent agreements, Microsoft may be making as much as $8 per Android device. This could give Microsoft as much as $3.4 billion in 2013 from Android sales.'"
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Microsoft's Most Profitable Mobile Operating System: Android

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  • Linux (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jacek Poplawski (223457) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @09:19AM (#43674497)

    So after all... Microsoft is making money on Linux.

    • So after all... Microsoft is making money on Linux.

      2013 is the year of Linux revenue in Microsoft's pocket!

    • by poetmatt (793785)

      Well, not exactly. This is bloat. 3.4 billion dollars of bloat.

  • The Solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TrueSpeed (576528) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @09:35AM (#43674657)

    All Google needs to do is offer a commercial licence, for a small fee, to all Android OEM's that indemnifies them. This way if Microsoft has an issue with Android or Linux they can take on Google directly. But, we all know that would never happen because Microsoft clearly knows that Google would single handily invalidate all of their obvious, worthless and prior art ridden patents one by one.

    • Re:The Solution (Score:4, Insightful)

      by squiggleslash (241428) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @09:46AM (#43674787) Homepage Journal

      Solution to what? Microsoft is being careful here to (1) license, at reasonable rates, its IP, and (2) concentrate only on phone manufacturers (meaning they're at least ahering to the spirit of the original Appeals Court ruling legalizing some software patents, which said that it's OK to patent software as long as it's a part of physical device. - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_v._Diehr [wikipedia.org] I believe, though I may have the wrong case, I'm going by memory.)

      While we can have a debate about the fairness of forcing hardware makers to license patents on a FRAND basis, it'll never be the same issue that it is for software. Hardware makers expect to have per-object costs, they're never going to have any kind of business model that does not expect a certain about of revenue per thing produced.

      I don't see any evidence that HTC, Samsung, et al are fuming about having to pay money to Microsoft. They are upset about Apple's armtwisting, but that's largely because Apple's hostility to Android to begin with, with patents being used and abused to attempt to close the competing platform down rather than make money from it, and Apple's reluctance to license FRAND patents on the technologies it uses to build iPhones at the going rate.

      Microsoft isn't really being much of a problem here.

      • Re:The Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @09:58AM (#43674925)

        Microsoft isn't really being much of a problem here.

        You seem to be confusing form for content. Yes, MS is following the form of "FRAND" but what they are FRANDing is itself not reasonable. If MS had a legitimate set of patents, they wouldn't keep them a secret. FFS patents are public documents.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Samsung and HTC are massive multi-billion dollar companies. They can stand up for themselves and enter into business agreements as it suits them. They know exactly what's in these patents and why it is worth licensing them. They don't need a bunch of pathetic "open source advocates" (aka M$ haters) making up paranoid conspiracy theories.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by inode_buddha (576844)
            Wrong. (I can't believe I'm replying to an AC) Think about it: Barnes and Noble called them out on it *and won* since they have a good argument for the Doctrine of Laches (regarding the NDA's). Which estopped MS from collecting anything on the patents in question. Barnes and Noble were able to do this because they don't offer any other MS products. Samsung et al *do* offer other products with MS, and to call them out may have impacted their other licensing agreements in an unfavorable way. Hence they fold
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by howardd21 (1001567)
      If Google could "single handily invalidate all of their obvious, worthless and prior art ridden patents one by one" and just charged $5 for the Android license every Mfg would save $3 per device. So why not just do it? It's money on the table for the whole ecosystem. Maybe they can't do it as easily as you think.
      • Re:The Solution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @10:10AM (#43675045)

        So why not just do it? It's money on the table for the whole ecosystem.

        If one company stands up to MS and loses, MS will certainly charge them more for the licensing. But if they win, all the manufacturers will benefit equally as the patents will be invalidated for everyone. So the risk of failing in a challenge is not proportional to the benefit of wining the challenge.

        As it is now, each manufacturer can just pass the licensing fees through to the end customer and since all the major android manufacturers (presumably) have roughly the same licensing costs there is no competitive disadvantage to paying the microsoft tax.

  • It's Too Long Ago (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mk1004 (2488060) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @09:36AM (#43674669)
    From the Constitution: "...by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their..." The patents are from the Jurassic age, in software years.
    • by PRMan (959735)
      At least patents are still limited, unlike copyright which is effectively beyond a lifetime.
    • by westlake (615356)

      The patents are from the Jurassic age, in software years.

      Time is relative.

      The "bleeding edge" tech so beloved by the geek can cost too much or be far from ready for deployment.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    So if Windows Phone were shutdown.

    There would be no barrier to native Office for Android, or Office for Apple iOS devices. [Just like the old days, competing with Wordstar and Lotus or Borland]

    Even better they could shift the developers for Windows Phone over to developing Mobile versions of all their Apps and tools to Android and iOS versions.

    They should "own" the Mobile App market on Android and iOS, and stop loosing money on Windows Phone.

    The current mindset of tossing good money after bad.. is just plai

  • as a near-term 'water bailing' strategy for microsoft but at some point, google will either adopt smarter strategies to avoid the patents entirely, buy the patents outright, or challenge them in court. considering how microsoft has been almost worthless for more than a decade in the smart phone industry though ill have to quote the words of Tony Stark, "You're missing the point. There's no throne, there is no version of this, where you come out on top."
  • ..in my ivory tower built from free software and dumbphones.
    I don't share your pain.
    • Re:I'll keep hiding (Score:4, Informative)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @10:21AM (#43675195) Homepage

      That is, until Microsoft asserts patent ownership on the stuff in your free software.

      I believe several times they've claimed that Linux violates a number of unspecified patents they hold, but I don't believe they've ever been willing to disclose what they are.

      One does have to wonder what these patents are, if the patents would survive scrutiny, or if the technology was actually invented by someone else before Microsoft patented it.

  • I just don't get it? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NormHome (99305) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @10:15AM (#43675123)

    Why are manufacturers paying this extortion rather than banding together and trying to fight it like any other patent troll?

    What is Google's position on this and why aren't they indemnifying manufacturers that use Android or fighting this themselves?

    • by kthreadd (1558445) on Thursday May 09, 2013 @10:44AM (#43675475)

      Because the legal system that we have created is designed to let companies like Microsoft do exactly what they are doing. This is completely normal.

      • by NormHome (99305)

        I realize that this whole patent troll thing has been going on for a while but haven't a large number of high profile patent cases eventually gotten shot down as either prior art, unpatentable things or too vague and the claims have been dismissed?

        Are Microsoft's patents that strong where everyone feels they will loose in court?

        Is it really so much easier and cost efficient to pay extortion rather than all the company's co-operating and banding together in a lawsuit to challenge the validity of Microsoft's

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Why are manufacturers paying this extortion rather than banding together and trying to fight it like any other patent troll?

      What is Google's position on this and why aren't they indemnifying manufacturers that use Android or fighting this themselves?

      Because the extortion is cheaper than fighting it out in court. $5/device isn't a lot of money - even if your device sold in SGS3 quantities (over 50M) that's $250M. A good patent lawsuit on the patents Microsoft asserts would run way bigger than that (I think S

    • by westlake (615356)

      Why are manufacturers paying this extortion rather than banding together and trying to fight it like any other patent troll?

      It could never be that their lawyers and engineers are telling them the patents are significant and valid. It could never be that they routinely cross-license patents with Microsoft.

  • than actually making products that don't suck. Implication? Corporate leeches and legal parasites have changed the legal environment to favor their existence by purchasing laws via bribes labeled as "campaign contributions." Tell me again how, as an individual ISV or inventor, I could *ever* be successful in the USA's current legal environment?

  • Blackmail for instance.

    Brinksmanship would be another.

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