Android bloatware has a new name and it is Microsoft. That might be a rather scathing remark, but that is the reality facing Android users yesterday and today. Xiaomi and Microsoft have just announced that they have signed a cross-licensing deal that will see Microsoft’s Android apps, particularly the mobile Office ones, pre-installed on Xiaomi’s more recent handsets. What the announcement didn’t mention, which Wall Street Journal reported, is that Xiaomi is also purchasing a whopping 1,500 patents from Microsoft for an undisclosed sum.
The two might be really different contracts, or might be the same, but they are definitely two sides of the same coin. These are practically omens of Xiaomi’s long-awaited and honestly long overdue arrival in the West, particularly the US. Of course, Xiaomi remains coy about its schedule, but this news practically sets up more pieces for that impending invasion.
Patent licensing in this business is no small matter, whether or not you agree with the current state of the patent system, especially in the US. The factor is even more critical when considering the disparity in patent systems between two countries, like the US and China. What holds in one may not be exactly be honored in another. It is believed that one of the reasons why Chinese OEMs like Xiaomi are slow to move into the US market is because of worries of patent lawsuit. Thus, a licensing agreement with Microsoft is one way of covering its legal bases and setting the stage for an eventual US smartphone campaign.
Perhaps in exchange for that, or in addition to it, Xiaomi has agreed to ship some of Microsoft’s mobile apps on its smartphones. The include Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Skype. These will be pre-installed on Mi 5, Mi Max, Mi 4s, Redmi Note 3 and Redmi 3 smartphones starting September this year. This mirrors a similar tie-up with Samsung and even ROM makers like Cyanogen, Inc.
Microsoft is the one that will benefit more from this arrangement. As it practically has no more smartphones of its own, Microsoft will have to rely on such partnerships to bring its Office apps to the mobile space. Considering how the likes of Word and Excel are still widely in use today, users might be more receptive of their presence compared to other types of bloatware.