Microsoft: Android Hidden Costs Are Expensive

According to Business Insider, Microsoft says that Android has hidden costs for mobile phone manufacturers, which are much higher than their own $US15 Windows Phone 7 licence. They have some very good points, but others are weak. These are their arguments:

Good arguments

• Manufacturers have to tailor Android to their device, creating drivers for various components, incurring in extra development cost. Windows Phone 7 is plug and play.

• Manufacturers are protected against IP lawsuits, unlike Android licensees (although one may argue that Google may be helping HTC behind the scenes).

• Windows Phone 7 architecture allows for easy customisation, using a plug-in architecture independent of the underlying OS. Microsoft argues that Android lacks this abstraction layer, which causes manufacturers to be slow in updating their customised Android versions. This, they say, reduces cost for the OEM, who doesn't have to re-tinker the whole thing every time Microsoft updates their mobile OS.

• Windows Phone 7 supports automated testing. Microsoft claims that Android doesn't, so the quality assurance phase is more expensive for Android handset manufacturers.

Not-so-good arguments

• Android manufacturers need to pay licenses for must-have features standard in Windows Phone 7. However, the argument is not so strong because you can argue that Microsoft Office integration is not a must-have feature. Audio and video codecs or location services, however, are must-have features that Microsoft argues that Android handset makers need to licence.

Bad arguments

• Android manufacturers need to spend extra money to create "user experiences" comparable to Microsoft's own Metro UI, Zune or Xbox Live. While it's true that Windows Phone 7 has a nice user interface, Android manufacturers don't need to re-create this. They can happily use Google's own or ignore some features, which are not required for a phone to be successful.

If you buy the idea that Windows Phone 7 is going to rock everyone's socks off because of these features, then all of Microsoft's arguments are good. But until that's demonstrated, they would have to convince manufacturers to pay the $US15 WP7 licence fee based on the good arguments - which seem sound. [Business Insider]

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