Microsoft pressuring Acer & ASUS with royalty fees to stem Android netbooks & tablets? [Updated]

Chris Davies - Oct 26, 2010, 6:11am CDT
Microsoft pressuring Acer & ASUS with royalty fees to stem Android netbooks & tablets? [Updated]

Microsoft is apparently planning on using royalty fees on smartphone technologies in an attempt to persuade Acer, ASUS and other netbook manufacturers to stick with Windows and bypass Android and Google Chrome OS on netbooks and tablets, according to sources in Taipei.  DigiTimes claims that  Microsoft is threatening to charge manufacturers for using its patented tech – including email and multimedia systems – as with their agreement with HTC, with fees amounting to around $10-15 per handset.

The target is not Acer and ASUS’ Android smartphone sales, which are still minimal in number, but seemingly a threat to the companies’ bottom line should they push ahead with Chrome OS, Android and other platforms for their far broader netbook and tablet ambitions.  According to DigiTimes’ sources, “Taiwan-based vendors have not been in strict compliance with the requirement for royalty fees,” leaving them biased toward Android rather than Windows Phone 7 or other Microsoft platforms.

One interpretation is that Microsoft is hoping the threat of considerably higher patent licensing fees will reduce the price advantage of Android and other platforms, and make its Windows 7 costs appear less outlandish in comparison to the open-source alternatives.  It’s a convoluted situation, certainly, especially when you factor in the potential improvements in user experience – battery longevity specifically – with ARM-based netbooks/tablets.

Update: ASUS has denied the rumors, with a statement saying “We cautiously clarify that there is no such a thing” to the Taiwan Stock Exchange Corp.  Acer has declined to comment.

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