Microsoft has dropped its licensing fees for at least two smartphone OEMs, according to a new report from The Times of India (via Verge), making it much easier for those competing in low-cost markets to build devices sporting Redmond’s mobile OS. The manufacturers are Karbonn and Lava, both partners announced among a group of entry-level device makers that are getting into Windows Phone building as of MWC.
The waved fee would mean that these smartphone OEMs would likely save between $5 and $15 per handset, which is what Microsoft usually charges for a Windows Phone software license. The software giant works out license deals individually and is highly protective of the specifics of each arrangement, so it’s unlikely to ever go on the record either way with respect to a potential removal of the fee altogether for some partners.
The dropping of fees is probably the only way to get some hardware makers to even look at its software, given the competition from the free-to-use Android mobile OS from Google. Both Karbonn and Lava apparently only agreed to come on board with the MS platform after the license fees were dropped, according to the original report. If Redmond is doing it with some of these low-cost partners, than it’s likely also doing it with others, and the plan is clearly designed to help Windows Phone gain some traction in markets where new subdivision Nokia once dominated.
Nokia introduced the heavily Windows Phone-inspired and Windows services-based Nokia X at MWC, as a low-cost entry-level device aimed at these markets. Some suggest MS approves of this and would like to use Android as a way to onboard users to the idea of using its Internet services, as a precursor to getting them on Windows Phone. Others suggest this is just a remainder pipeline product Nokia is releasing on its own that Microsoft will axe once it takes control. Whatever the case, it’s clear from this licensing news that Redmond wants emerging markets in a bad way, and is willing to do what it takes to get it.