Microsoft’s next mobile move may be apps pre-installed on Galaxy S6

That Galaxy S6 phone Samsung is expected to introduce on March 1 could have one big trick up its sleeve: Microsoft apps pre-installed. That’s the word from SamMobile’s sources, which previously reported that Samsung’s own TouchWiz apps were likely to be unbundled from the new Galaxy S6.

Had this been reported a year ago, I would have shook my head and said, “no way.” What a difference a year makes.

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Over the last 12 months, [company]Microsoft[/company] has made a very concerted and public effort to get its apps and services in front of as many mobile users as it can. Search the iTunes App Store or [company]Google[/company] Play Store for the word Microsoft and you’ll see it: Dozens of new apps available including Word, Excel, Power Point, Outlook (which is a rebranded version of Acompli) various utilities such as Android lock screens, and more.

Sure, getting these apps in the iOS and Android app stores helps with exposure but having them pre-installed on new devices, particularly a flagship phone, is worth even more to Microsoft. The company doesn’t have to get users to take the action of searching an app store and installing the software when it’s already there on the device. People are more likely to try Microsoft’s apps as a result, which can then result into more active users for the company.

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Samsung would have little to lose here because it doesn’t have competing apps of its own; at least not in the breadth and depth of what Microsoft has to offer. And if potential Galaxy S6 users get a better experience through Microsoft’s apps, Samsung should be happy; the pre-installs could be marketed as a selling point. I also wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft pays Samsung for such a deal.

Of course, Google won’t likely be happy at all if this does happen. The company’s entire reason for Android to exist is for mobile device users to engage with Google services, thereby providing Google with rich, detailed data for its main source of revenue: Advertising. That means the more time people spend in Microsoft’s mobile apps, the less they’re spending in Gmail, Drive, Docs and the like.

Instead, Microsoft gets that user engagement along with the brand recognition and the reinforcement that it too is part of the communication when it comes to mobile computing. That could be very handy when Windows 10 for phones debuts, because the switching barriers for an iPhone or Android owner get reduced a little if the same apps are available — or even better: more optimized — on Windows 10, which looks promising based on my first take.