Protecting Intellectual Property
So what is the deal with patents and intellectual property? Why is Microsoft so keen on taking money off other companies that are building phones for Google Android?
Ultimately, it’s all about the intellectual property. Microsoft’s library of patents enables the company to apply pressure on small device manufacturers that are producing Android handsets.
All of this makes perfect sense when you think about it – after all, why would Microsoft continue to put money into Windows Phone if they didn’t have the technology and the money to develop it to a standard good enough to challenge Android and the iPhone. Thanks to many years of research Microsoft owns many thousands of patents which are regularly lodged with the appropriate bodies, resulting in Redmond being able to launch a “scattergun" style patent offensive on any company that they suspect might be using its technology.
The result of this is that Microsoft’s mobile division has plenty of money coming in from manufacturers such as Compal, Wistron and Quanta Computer. It’s fascinating to learn that a company like Compal – provider of hardware for Acer, Dell and other big names – is the target of Microsoft’s patent-protection actions rather than Google itself, or perhaps Acer. This tactic, of course, prevents the electronics company concerned simply switching to a different manufacturer.
It is also interesting to note that Microsoft has made licensing agreements with HTC, a company with which it has a long and successful relationship in the mobile phone market. These arrangements can also protect the supposed infringer from action from other parties, such as Apple -- as a long-term partner on the Windows Phone platform, Microsoft will of course be aware that should HTC be subjected to patent-based action from Apple (in the way that Samsung has been) then this could damage the Windows Phone platform considerably.
While Windows Phone might be considered a slow burner in the mobile phone market, Microsoft is nevertheless able to profit from the success of Android and protect its own operating system at the same time.