"The more, the merrier" has certainly been Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) motto lately, at least when it comes to its milking of Google (NAS: GOOG) Android. The more patent licensees it can garner, the more royalty checks it will see in its mailbox. Since the beginning of its campaign, Microsoft has been steadily adding notches to its growing list of Android gadget makers.
The latest OEM to cave in to Mr. Softy's demands is an important one. Welcome, LG Electronics, you are the 11th Android minion now joining Microsoft's ranks. The two tech powerhouses have inked a patent licensing agreement covering Android and Chrome OS. "We are pleased to have built upon our long-standing relationship with LG to reach a mutually beneficial agreement," Microsoft said in a press release. It's safe to say that most of the satisfaction is on Microsoft's part.
With this announcement, three of the biggest and most prolific Android OEMs in the world are now on board with adding to Microsoft's coffers: Samsung, HTC, and LG. In the third quarter, those three manufacturers combined represented more than a quarter of worldwide mobile device sales, albeit including other operating systems beyond Android as well as feature phones. Microsoft is happy to point out that more than 70% of Android smartphones sold domestically "are now receiving coverage under Microsoft's patent portfolio."
That's a pretty hefty slice of the Android pie that Microsoft is laying claim to, and it will likely continue growing. There are three notable Android players that have yet to sign on the dotted line: Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) , Barnes & Noble (NYS: BKS) , and Google takeover target Motorola Mobility (NYS: MMI) .
Although Microsoft counts Quanta Computer, the third-party manufacturer of the Kindle Fire, as a licensee, that deal likely doesn't cover Quanta customers like Amazon.
Microsoft and Amazon had previously inked a licensing agreement, but it didn't cover Android tablets, so the Kindle Fire likely attracted a kindly worded letter from Microsoft requesting remittance of royalty payment. Considering how well the Kindle Fire is selling, landing Amazon would be a big win for Mr. Softy.
Motorola and B&N have been holding out as long as possible. Motorola was partially exonerated lately, when it was found to infringe on only one of the original nine Microsoft patents in the case. Meanwhile, B&N is reaching out to the feds for assistance, and is even considering spinning off its Nook business.
For now, slow and steady continues to win patent licensees for the Redmond giant.
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