HTC’s recent legal loss in the ITC Apple patent case, along with Microsoft’s aggressive patent push amid Android OEMs, has reportedly left manufacturers increasingly wary of Google’s open-source OS. According to the 21st Century Business Herald, growing Chinese brands like ZTE and Huawei are looking to adopt Windows Phone Mango either as a placatory measure toward Microsoft or the first step in a transition from over-reliance on Android. However, the platform spat could also have an unlikely beneficiary: MeeGo.
Chinese analysts have pointed to the relatively closeness of MeeGo’s system kernel and that of Android, suggesting that both hardware and apps could be reasonably straightforward to migrate. MeeGo’s under-the-radar legal situation, and backer Intel’s extreme willingness to find new partners – now that Nokia has all but abandoned MeeGo in favor of Windows Phone – could make the platform a safer bet for spooked Android OEMs. Interestingly, rumors have already surfaced earlier in the year regarding the possibility of a ZTE handset powered by Intel processors.
However, just as Nokia has left the N9 to helm its fledgling MeeGo effort, more manufacturers are expected to look to Windows Phone. Although Microsoft charges a roughly $15-per-device licensing fee for Windows Phone 7, versus Google’s free distribution of Android, there are suggestions that should Apple, Oracle and others win their patent cases then $15-20 royalty fees may become commonplace for Android phones and tablets. HTC is already believed to pay Microsoft roughly $5 per Android device in licensing, while Samsung is supposedly being chased for up to $15 per Android device.
Of course, whether Apple would agree to licensing its technologies remains a sleeping-dragon issue. HTC has already announced that it has “alternate solutions” to the systems Apple alleges are infringed, perhaps in unspoken admission of the fact that the Cupertino company is likely more interested in squashing and hamstringing its rivals than it is in clawing license fees from them. Forcing Google back to the drawing board to identify and replace elements of Android found to overstep into iOS IP would certainly sap some of the platform’s current momentum.