Microsoft expands its role on Android mobile devices

The saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

Microsoft seems to have a different interpretation that goes something like, “If you can’t beat ’em, beat ’em anyway by not-so-subtly taking them over from the inside.”

I wrote a blog post about the latest news from Microsoft and how it is establishing itself as a dominant player–possibly more dominant than Google itself–on Android mobile devices:

Microsoft has its own mobile operating system and devices. Thanks to a variety of legal and strategic moves, though, Microsoft also owns a sizeable chunk of its largest competitor. Microsoft already generates significant revenue from Android and it is poised to rake in the cash from Android users thanks to a newly announced partnership to pre-install Microsoft Office and Skype apps on a wide variety of Android tablets.

Microsoft revealed yesterday that it has entered a strategic agreement with 20 different Android OEMs—including Sony and LG—to install Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on their Android tablets. A new LG tablet and the Sony Xperia Z4 are slated to come with the Microsoft apps pre-installed in the next 90 days.

“Our strategic agreements with these partners demonstrate how Microsoft is leveraging the scale of the hardware ecosystem, and working with partners in new ways to deliver rich experiences to our customers,” said Microsoft’s Nick Parker in a blog post announcing the new relationships. “This is a cornerstone of our cross-platform services strategy, to bring an array of Microsoft services to every person on every device.”

It is part of Microsoft’s broader cross-platform strategy. Under Satya Nadella’s leadership Microsoft has taken a much more aggressive platform-agnostic stance rather than trying to force users to stay on Microsoft’s own operating systems and devices. Microsoft has made significant progress in providing access to its tools and services no matter what platform or device a customer chooses. More importantly, it has focused on ensuring a consistent and seamless experience which makes it more likely customers will choose to use those familiar Microsoft apps no matter what device they’re on.
Microsoft offers the same—or sometimes better—apps on iOS than it does on Android, or even on its own Windows Phone mobile devices sometimes. However, iOS is a closed ecosystem controlled by Apple. Apple owns the operating system. Apple manufactures the hardware. Apple controls access to the App Store. Microsoft is doing an excellent job of navigating iOS but there’s no mistaking that Microsoft is playing in Apple’s world.

Android is a different story. While Android was developed by and is closely tied to Google it is an open source operating system. Google doesn’t “own” it per se, and Google makes zero dollars of revenue from licensing the Android OS itself. Microsoft on the other hand generates about $2 billion a year in revenue from Android manufacturers in agreements over licensing Microsoft patents that are infringed by the Android OS.

Read the full story at Forbes: Microsoft Has Hijacked Android In A Hostile Takeover. Let me know what you think.

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