Microsoft: Android Isn’t Free!

by Gaurav Kheterpal on September 1, 2010

Google’s Android isn’t free, in fact there are substantial hidden costs which makes it a costlier affair than Windows Phone 7, a person familiar with Microsoft mobile strategy said. Microsoft has been under fire from all quarters for its decision to charge up to $15 per Windows Phone license, especially when two of the world’s most popular mobile platforms – Android and Symbian are free.

Are Microsoft’s claims valid? Has Google smartly hidden the Android licensing costs from public eye? Let’s dig deeper to find out the truth.

Microsoft is betting big on the success of Windows Phone 7 and plans to spend billions of dollars to establish its latest phone operating system. The company has already announced its plans to pay phone manufacturers for engineering costs and subsidizes developer costs to promote Windows Phone 7 application development. The trade-off due to these additional expenses and subsidies is the $15 licensing fee for Windows Phone 7 operating system

It is widely believed that All that is open source is free“. Microsoft thinks otherwise and it believes the hidden costs associated with Android are a case in point. It’s easy to dismiss these allegations by labeling Microsoft as a staunch opponent to the open source philosophy. Microsoft never appreciated Linux and it certainly isn’t fond of Android either. Despite being an open source loyalist, I have to admit that Microsoft has a valid point, at least in case of Android.

Google has never disclosed it’s break-up of Android revenues and the controls it applies at the OEM end. The common perception is that Android is free for customers and developers alike. But is it free for OEMs? Perhaps not. Google shares private Android code drops with OEMs nearly 6 months in advance of the public release and it is widely believed that OEMs need to pay for this exclusive early-access. Second, Google is the legal owner of the Android trademark so OEMs need to take its approval in order to leverage on the Android brand name. Do you expect OEMs to cough up all these charges on their own? Microsoft claims that OEMs actually charge the customers to foot this bill.

Further, Microsoft says that Lawsuits over disputed Android IP have been costly for Android OEMs. In contrast, Microsoft handles any lawsuits related to Windows Phone 7 IP therefore the licensing fee is justified. Yet another reasoning put forward by Microsoft is that Windows Phone 7 comes with great user experiences in the Metro UI, Zune, Xbox LIVE, Exchange, and Visual Studio for app development. These are not built-in as part of Android and escalate costs even further.

Google’s mantra is “Do no evil”. Microsoft argues that Google is evil because the latter says Android is free, while it isn’t. It’s an interesting debate to say the least. What do you think? Should Google offer more transparency on the Android revenue model? Or is this another case of “I hate open source” stories from Bill Gates & Co.?

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. >. Follow > by: RSS>, Twitter >, >, or Friendfeed >

{ 1 trackback }

Microsoft takes Android to the Bank —
August 16, 2012 at 5:48 am

{ 1 comment } Business VOIP November 29, 2010 at 6:08 pm

Its great that Android has kept the lisencing cost hidden. This will keep the cost down and increase sales for the android without bother customers with more prices. Windows Mobile and Android both offer support for VOIP. With VOIP becoming a major concern with phones these days the slightest addition to cost will sway the customer to the other side.

Our VOIP Customers at have repeatedly told us this. This was why the majority of our customers switched from Windows mobile to Android.

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