Microsoft is to further increase its presence within the Android market, after agreeing a new deal with Lenovo. As part of the arrangement, there will be cross-licensing of patents between the two companies, as well as Microsoft’s apps being preinstalled on Lenovo smartphones.
Following the deal, apps like OneDrive, Microsoft Office and Skype will be included on what Microsoft describes as “Lenovo’s premium devices”.
Lenovo also owns the Motorola brand, which in recent years has been famed for developing smartphones which run near-stock editions of Android.
Motorola’s near-stock strategy is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, meaning that Microsoft apps will not be preinstalled on Motorola-branded smartphones.
However, the patent-licensing agreement will cover both Lenovo and Motorola smartphones. This is likely to have been a key aspect of the deal from Lenovo’s perspective, as it seemingly offers the Chinese company a measure of legal protection should future accusations of patent infringement arise.
In a statement announcing the deal, Microsoft stressed that it is committed to patent licensing, and already has a large number of agreements in place.
“The patent agreement [with Lenovo] is another example of the important role intellectual property (IP) plays in ensuring a healthy and vibrant technology ecosystem,” a statement from Microsoft read.
“Since Microsoft launched its IP licensing programme in December 2003, it has entered into more than 1,200 licensing agreements.”
Under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has been carrying out a strategic transition, shifting focus away from software and towards services. As part of this programme, investment has been made in developing products for non-Microsoft platforms, such as Android.
In order to sell services such as Office 365 subscriptions or OneDrive cloud storage, Microsoft needs to recruit a lot of users to its apps. To achieve this, the company has pursued agreements such as its new arrangement with Lenovo.