Corp. (MSFT) has already inked lucrative licensing details with
General Dynamics Corp. (GD) (owners of Itronix, a
maker of rugged tablets) [source]; Velocity Micro, Inc. [source]; Onkyo Corp. [source] (JSD:6628); and HTC Corp. (SEO:066570) [source]. It's pressuring Samsung Electronics
Comp., Ltd. (SEO:005930) into a similar licensing
deal. Reportedly it wants up to $15 per device sold.
do all these companies have in common? They all use Google Inc.'s (GOOG) Android operating system and all are
afraid that Microsoft may make good on its threat to sue them if they don't pay
Now Taiwan's Acer Inc. (TPE:2353) has agreed [press release] to a
similar licensing arrangement, though it declined to disclose how much it had
agreed to pay per device. Acer makes the popular Android 3.x
"Honeycomb" Iconia tablet.
Horacio Gutierrez, corporate vice president and deputy general counsel of
Intellectual Property and Licensing at Microsoft comments, "We are pleased
that Acer is taking advantage of our industry wide licensing program
established to help companies address Android's IP issues. This agreement is an
example of how industry leaders can reach commercially reasonable arrangements
that address intellectual property."
Of course of amiable phrasing "Help... address Android's IP issues"
translates roughly to "forced to pay under threat of lawsuit".
Google does offer Android to device makers for free, so licensing isn't game
over to Android manufacturers unlike Apple, Inc.'s (AAPL) lawsuit campaign , which simply looks to
ban Android devices from the market. However, it does shift the balance
of power slightly in the favor of Microsoft, who is trying to push its own Windows
Phone 7 smartphone operating system on the masses, by making it less
profitable to make Android devices.
Many more manufacturers will like opt the route of Acer and HTC -- simply
paying Microsoft's demanded toll.