Whether it is using its patent weight to work these deals, or Android manufacturers are just succumbing to the monolithic march of cross platform value, Microsoft today has announced that 20 new OEMs will start shipping Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype preinstalled in the near future. This brings the grand total to 31 Android partners that include LG, Sony, Haier, Positivo and Wortman. Full list HERE.
There's been some discussion, mainly in conspiracy circles, that these Android partnerships are actually the result of deals OEMs have made to limit licensing fees for pieces of the Android OS for which Microsoft holds patents. How a deal like that would look is anyone's guess, but could be a way for OEMs to continue to produce cheap hardware without the high cost of licensing fees that Microsoft has been successfully collecting from manufacturers like Samsung and HTC. It's been reported that over 55 percent of Android devices worldwide are subject to patent licensing agreements.
But one thing is clear, Microsoft is making a strong play for Android. The company is providing apps and services for iOS, too, but Android is the clear market leader in number of devices sold and has the most to lose – and gain – from apps that provide true productivity.
Announced earlier today, Microsoft is bringing Cortana to Android and iOS, but also a Windows 10 application that will allow Android and iOS users to connect to Microsoft services directly from the new operating system. iOS users should see this as a huge plus, considering that Apple locks its customers into a closed ecosystem. Microsoft on the other hand is taking the touted openness of Android to a whole new level by providing its apps and services across all major platforms. These are interesting times, indeed.
So, no matter which platform you choose in the future, you can expect Microsoft to be front and center.