So how much is Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) trying to get out of Android vendors through its patent-licensing quest? Fifteen bucks per handset, according to a newspaper in Samsung’s back yard, which is the biggest Android partner that has yet to get involved in a legal skirmish with Microsoft and might be the straw that breaks the back of the Android community.
The Maeii Business Newspaper reported (Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Translate was not exactly up to the task here, but anyway) that Microsoft is in talks with Samsung regarding the same patent-licensing deals that it has struck with HTC and a number of smaller Android partners. The two sides appear to be just talking, according to an interpretation of that story by a local Reuters reporter, with Samsung hoping to talk Microsoft down to about $10 per handset in exchange for closer ties to Microsoft’s Windows division. Whether or not that means Windows 8 or Windows Phone 7, we’re not sure.
Samsung is the leading mobile phone maker in the U.S., and while not all of those phones run Android a significant portion do and Samsung has also bet heavily on Android as a tablet operating system. It has its legal hands full at the moment with Apple (NSDQ: AAPL), which also sued Samsung before the International Trade Commission Wednesday adding to the mess of legal wrangling currently involving those two companies.
So it’s not all that surprising that Samsung may be thinking about settling one dispute while fully engaged in another, unlike Android counterparts like Motorola (NYSE: MMI) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS), which are trying to fight Microsoft patent lawsuits after licensing talks collapsed. And $15 a handset is an interesting number, because that’s the price many believe Microsoft is charging Windows Phone 7 vendors for its operating system (although things are different with Nokia).
As we’ve noted before, the whole idea is to get Android partners to start thinking about Android as a costly option: even if Google doesn’t charge for the operating system, Microsoft, Apple and perhaps the other members of the Rockstar Bidco consortium that won the Nortel patent auction seem determined to make it more expensive to use Android. Should Samsung decide to pay up, it will likely think long and hard about whether or not Android is worth the effort when Microsoft (or even HP) would be willing to offer up their own mobile operating systems for less than the Android licensing fees.