Microsoft has just announced that they’ve signed a patent deal with Quanta Computer. Whenever they make a device running either Google Android or Chrome OS, Microsoft will get a cut of that. If you’ve never heard of Quanta, don’t worry, you’re not supposed to know them. They’re a Taiwanese company that everyone uses to build consumer electronics hardware. Similar to how Apple uses Foxconn and Pegatron to make the iPhone, folks like Dell, HP, Lenovo, and many others, use Quanta to build notebook computers. Two Quanta built products you may be familiar with are the BlackBerry PlayBook and the Amazon Kindle Fire. The latter is due to launch next month and stands to be the first credible competitor to Apple’s iPad, not only because it’s so freaking cheap, coming in at just $200, but because there’s an entire ecosystem of books, movies, music, and Amazon’s massive online store that users will be able to access. According to a Microsoft spokesperson who spoke to Mary-Jo Foley from the ZDNet blog All About Microsoft, here’s how the deal works:
“Quanta is one of two major ODMs for which we’ve entered an Android Patent Agreement. Because we offer patent licenses to OEMs and ODMs, we put in place provisions that make sure we are not paid twice for the same device. Having said that, for the Android agreements we offer ODM’s, we seek agreements that provide coverage for as broad a set of the ODM’s offerings as possible. We cannot specify particular terms for any of the ODM agreements.”
In other words, Microsoft stands to make a serious amount of money by doing absolutely nothing. If the companies who sell you hardware don’t want to pay Microsoft for using Android, then at least the companies that those companies pay to build the hardware in the first place will pay Microsoft.
Funny, remember when Android was “free”?