Microsoft's week involved growing rumors about the Windows Phone 7 release, a lawsuit against Motorola over Android, a major reorganization and a fresh twist in its long-running i4i legal battle.
Microsoft's busy week centered on mobile-not only its upcoming Windows Phone
7, but also legal action related to one of its biggest rivals: On Oct. 1, the
company announced it had filed a patent-infringement lawsuit against Motorola
over the latter's Google Android smartphones.
"The patents at issue relate to a range of functionality embodied in
Motorola's Android smartphone devices that are essential to the smartphone user
experience," Horacio Gutierrez, Microsoft's corporate vice president and
deputy general counsel of Intellectual Property and Licensing, wrote
in an Oct. 1 statement
, "including synchronizing email, calendars and
contacts, scheduling meetings, and notifying applications of changes in signal
strength and battery power."
The lawsuit suggests that Microsoft is becoming more aggressive about its
patents with manufacturers of Android phones. In April, HTC
acknowledged it would pay royalties to Microsoft in exchange for the use of "patented
technology" in its Android-powered devices.
When news of the HTC agreement first went
public, a Microsoft spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to eWEEK, "Microsoft's
policy is one of mutual respect for IP and we are committed to licensing our IP
on reasonable terms." Phone manufacturers such as HTC,
the spokesperson added, "are sophisticated businesses that have a track
record of licensing patents to secure the necessary IP rights for their
For Microsoft, such intellectual-property battles offer two potential
benefits. First and foremost, it earns royalties from a rapidly expanding
Android market. Second, it could theoretically slow manufacturers' rate of
producing Android-powered devices, an important strategy when you consider that
Microsoft's own Windows Phone 7 is due to hit the market in October.
And Microsoft is gearing up to push those Windows Phone 7 devices in a major
way. On Oct. 1, the company announced that Andy Lees will remain in the top
spot of the company's Mobile Communications Business and Don Mattrick will remain
head of its Interactive Entertainment Business-formalizing the men's roles
originally established back in May. Microsoft's mobile and
interactive-entertainment businesses were previously grouped under the umbrella
of the Entertainment & Devices Division; the assumption is that, by
separating them into two autonomous subdivisions, the two product lines can
receive more focused energy and attention.
Given how Windows Phone 7 and Xbox Kinect are central to the company's
overall consumer strategy, that move seems logical. (Microsoft also announced
Kurt DelBene as president of the Microsoft Office Division.) Microsoft is
betting that the smartphone's unique user interface-it aggregates Web content
and apps into a series of subject-specific "Hubs," such as "Office"
and "Games," instead of the iPhone's or Android's gridlike pages of
individual apps-will allow it to regain market share traction against those