Microsoft and Samsung don’t have the best relationship these days over Windows Phone with the ongoing conflicts the legal patent royalties battles are causing. According to Microsoft, Samsung has stopped paying patent royalties over intellectual property associated with the use of Android, and that turns out to be a lot of money (billions) on a yearly basis.
According to Korea Times, Samsung is reportedly looking into releasing cheaper handsets running Windows Phone as their own Tizen platform hasn’t drawn strong interest from developers.
“Samsung has run pilot programs on the stability of Windows 8.1 software on devices. It is interested in promoting Windows mobiles,” said an official directly involved.
However, this depends highly on the outcome over the legal battles between the two companies as they try to make common ground. Microsoft and Samsung currently work together on other projects related to cloud computing and have always had a strong relationship in the past.
With Microsoft planning a huge push with Windows 10 this year, having Samsung on board can be of great benefit to the mobile part of Windows, but at what cost? Microsoft is making lots of money off of patent royalties from Samsung, but at the same time Samsung is the largest smartphone maker in the world with a very strong brand recognition that if they properly came on board, it would be a huge boost for Windows Phone – one that could possibly have a bigger impact than what Windows 10 could provide. However, the key word here is “properly” meaning that Samsung gives Windows Phone equal treatment to that of the Galaxy Brand, which likely will not happen.
Samsung has made some great Windows Phones in the past with their Focus line, and the Samsung Ativ line at the launch of Windows Phone 8. However, even though Samsung Ativ was the first announced Windows Phone 8, it only launched in a very select few markets and saw zero advertising or promotion while not being properly supported by the company.
With the recent zero-dollar licencing, Microsoft has singed on many new manufacturers to make Windows Phone in the past few months, and these new OEMs are exclusively working on budget handsets which is essential in growing the platform’s market share. I don’t know how much benefit Samsung getting in on the low-end with Windows Phone and limited distribution with zero advertising will help the platform. It would certainly help if it’s properly executed, but if one looks back at the history of Samsung with Windows Phone it’s hard to imagine anything better happening if they decide to pursue the low end route.
What Microsoft really needs is a flagship from a company like Samsung to really boost mindshare of Windows mobile (phone), and if Samsung and Microsoft reach some sort agreement for Samsung to add a Windows version of their flagship Galaxy line and advertising them together, that would be a significant catalyst in helping the platform boom practically overnight.
Windows Phone needs to have a decent marketshare of high end devices in consumers’ hands, and that means a lot more to the way the platform is perceived rather than having a stronger marketshare in the low end segment. If I had to choose, I’d choose Lumia over Samsung any day, and I’m certain that most Windows Phone users who are familiar with the platform would do the same. If Samsung plans on getting back into Windows Phone with poor support and low end devices that see no advertising, I’d say they should stick with Android as doing a half-assed job on Windows Phone is more damaging to the platform and its user base.