Seow Tein Hee's Blog

Seow Tein Hee male Former Associate Editor

Attuned to the latest mobile technology and news, Tein Hee is always on the lookout for innovation and creativity in the mobile industry.

The Truth about Licensing Fees (with Android)

Is Google Android an open-source mobile operating system? According to all we've heard, it is. But the recent announcement by both Microsoft and HTC, with the latter forking out licensing fees to the Redmond company for the use of its software patents, sheds some new insights onto the mobile OS.

Let's review this, shall we? HTC, paying Microsoft royalties, for using specific software within its devices that utilizes the open-source Android OS. There isn't a clear indication of how much of Microsoft's patents were employed by HTC's Android device. The real question is - how will this affect the other vendors looking towards Android?

The promise of using an Android device is the absence of licensing fees being paid. This translates to more competitive (read: cheaper) prices being tagged onto mobile devices. With this new agreement between HTC and Microsoft, it could affect the plans for future Android devices.

One such company that might go on guard is Motorola, which has recently announced the availability of its Motorola Backflip in Singapore. Motorola has been on the comeback for the past few months, and it's apparent that they're putting all their eggs into one basket, that being Android. In doing so, we've seen more affordable Android smartphones by Motorola. Case in point – the Motorola Milestone was only priced as high as S$198 with subsidy from StarHub And with the Backflip, you can also expect it at $0 with the right SingTel price plan, starting from May 1st.

With this new agreement amongst HTC and Microsoft, it stands that Motorola could be affected. But know this, should it come to pass for Motorola to get into a licensing agreement with Microsoft, consumers should feel the pinch on the monetary aspect.

All Reponses

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If the licensing fee with MS was for Android, it would probably have to be paid for by Google - unless it's so covert that no news about it ever appeared. So I think it's probably something unique to HTC, probably the Sense UI interface as inferred by SerSiTiv, and not that the Android platform owed MS licensing fees.
Which probably means only HTC devices will cost more.


Probably the only thing that stands out for the HTC devices is Sense UI. Did Microsoft and HTC co-share in developing this application? I would guess so since it first appeared on the Winmo platform, which at that time was rather impressive. This is however just an assumption that Sense UI was developed with Microsoft having a finger in the pie.

After seeing motoblur, I'm rather impressed with how they aggregate the various social media together, something which I feel is still rather weak on the HTC android devices with Sense UI. So I wonder, how else can MS value add to Motorola in deploying software for the Android platform.


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