Microsoft Weighs In on Google/Motorola Deal

Following in the footsteps of its special partner Nokia, Microsoft this week also weighed in on Google's plan to purchase Motorola Mobility for a whopping $12.5 billion, a deal that is entirely about smartphone/mobility patent infringement protection. But a bit surprisingly, the software giant is using this event to tout its own Windows Phone platform as the only truly "equal" mobile platform for partners.

"Investing in a broad and truly open mobile ecosystem is important for the industry and consumers alike, and Windows Phone is now the only platform that does so with equal opportunity for all partners," Windows Phone Division President Andy Lees is credited as saying in a prepared statement.

Which, when you think about it, is quite a statement given that Windows Phone does have one very unequal partner in Nokia.

Back in February, Microsoft and Nokia announced that they would collaborate on the development of Windows Phone going forward, with Nokia lending its expertise in hardware design and language support to the platform. "Nokia [will] help drive the future of Windows Phone," the announcement notes, adding that Nokia's Maps app, Nokia's operator billing agreements, and Nokia's content and application store will be integrated with Microsoft's Windows Phone platform.

The announcement also says that the two companies will "jointly create" new products and services. These are all advantages that none of the other Windows Phone hardware partners enjoy. And while some Nokia software features will make their way into the core Windows Phone OS software, and thus will be provided to other hardware partners as well, it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that Windows Phone is any more "equal" for its partners than is Google's Android. If anything, the Motorola deal simply makes the Android ecosystem more similar to that of Windows Phone.

The hope for Microsoft, I suppose, is that it can quickly pounce on any dissatisfied Android hardware partners and convince them to adopt Windows Phone, exclusively or otherwise. But the top three Android hardware partners—Samsung, HTC, and LG—already make Windows Phone handsets too. And while none of them really breaks down unit sales this way, it's safe to assume that their Android wares outsell the Windows Phone units by a wide margin. (Motorola is the number-four seller of Android smartphones.)

Regardless of the logic it's using, it makes sense for Microsoft to use the current confusion and fear to court Android partners. But the reality is that these companies face the same unequal duopoly in Microsoft/Nokia that they would in Google/Motorola. 

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