Lenovo and Microsoft have made the joint announcement that selected Lenovo devices powered by the Android operating system will come with a number of Microsoft’s productivity applications pre-installed. The deal will involve Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype. Lenovo, as one of the world’s largest Android device manufacturers, expects to ship millions of devices containing Microsoft’s apps over the next few years. Each company gave a positive statement with the news, explaining how including Microsoft’s applications and services will allow customers all over the world to be more productive. It’s not yet clear the exact makeup of the applications that will be pre-installed onto Lenovo’s portfolio nor what models will come with the bundled Microsoft applications; we do not yet know if Motorola’s Moto family of devices will start to come with additional applications installed at the factory although given how Motorola market a near-stock user interface, this seems less likely.
What is perhaps more interesting is how the deal was reached: this is another of Microsoft’s patent licensing deals. Over the years, Microsoft has put into place arrangements with ASUS, Dell, LG, Samsung, Sony and Xiaomi to pre-install their applications and services in exchange for not charging hefty royalties for whatever of Microsoft’s patents the device manufacturers are using. From Microsoft’s perspective, these deals put their applications and services, which will be recognizable by customers all over the world, right in front of a potentially captive audience and from the device manufacturer’s perspective, this is a cheaper and less complicated way compared with signing cheques every month.
The deal also demonstrates how new generation Microsoft is working to get its products and services available and accessible to customers regardless of the software platform they are using. Microsoft pumped billions of dollars into pushing their mobile operating systems, the most recent being Windows Phone, and used their own in-house platform as a means of getting the best Microsoft experience. This is important for customers who wish to use Microsoft Office, but unfortunately for one reason or another the Windows Phone platform has not been a commercial success. Today, Microsoft have reworked their mobile productivity applications so that they are competitive and of course they are tied in with their paid-for services, such as OneDrive. The Android version of Microsoft Office is a compelling and competitive product and this deal is sure to encourage people to use it on their Lenovo smartphones and tablets.