Peter Burrows’ Bloomberg report points out something that’s largely been overlooked the past several months: the opposite approaches that Microsoft and Apple are taking with Android.
Microsoft is aggressively going after Android partners with the intention of forcing them to license Microsoft’s patents. Right or wrong, this effectively destroys the Android “free” proposition.
But Apple is going after the Android partners to stop them from selling their devices. They’re not interested in licensing their patents. They want these rival devices destroyed. Period.
But given the success Microsoft has had with forcing others to license their patents, what if Apple decides to do the same thing? Kevin Rivette of 3LP Advisors argues that this is the prudent thing to do from a business perspective.
Steve Jobs clearly didn’t care about that perspective. He wanted Android destroyed because he felt like Google copied most of their Android innovation from Apple. But Tim Cook could alter Apple’s strategy. After all, forcing Android partners to pay both Microsoft and Apple for each device sold may be a huge deterrent for many of them.
Most speculate that Microsoft is getting about $5 from each Android device sold by partners now licensing their patents. Rivette believes Apple could get $10. The end result would be billion of dollars or, again, Android partners second-guessing going with Android.
Also, with such deals, Apple could possibly dictate other terms for using the patents (something like: you can only use them 6 months after we do).
A dick move? Very much so. It would also be a big break in strategy by Apple. But Burrows and co. do a good job laying out why it may be inevitable. The patent-based injunctions are temporary at best — rivals figure out little tweaks to work around them. But they spend millions in court in the process, so it may be worth it to them to simply license patents from Apple. This is exactly why Microsoft is getting these royalties.
At the very least, this is certainly fascinating to think about.