Microsoft continues to push its core productivity apps to the owners of the world's most dominant mobile devices — this time, in a deal with Lenovo, which acquired the Motorola smartphone business from Google in October 2014.
Microsoft and Lenovo announced a deepening of their strategic relationship last Friday.
Under the terms of the deal, Beijing-based Lenovo will load Microsoft's productivity apps — including Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype — on select Lenovo devices that use the Android operating system.
Lenovo expects to ship millions of these Android-based devices worldwide over the next several years. So it will create opportunities for Lenovo customers to take advantage of Microsoft’s most used applications making it a win-win, according to Shyam Oza, senior product manager at Microsoft partner AvePoint.
Of course, a new feature for some is bloatware for others — and Lenovo is no stranger to accusations that it preloads unwanted software on its products. It came under fire in late 2014 for using a "virulent, evil adware" called Superfish Visual Discovery to attack secure connections, access sensitive data and inject advertising.
Lenovo is fighting class certification in multidistrict litigation over that adware, which was pre-installed on 800,000 laptops. The software would break HTTPS encryption and self-sign security certificates ostensibly provided by financial institutions, the lawsuits allege.
What Microsoft, Lenovo Gain
But this time, it's not Superfish Inc. but Microsoft that will be providing the software for the Lenovo devices.
The expanded collaboration between Microsoft and Lenovo also includes a patent cross-licensing agreement that covers Lenovo and Motorola devices. Since Microsoft launched its intellectual property (IP) licensing program in December 2003, it has entered into more than 1,200 licensing agreements, Microsoft noted in a statement.
That could be a big boost to Microsoft's licensing revenues. In quarterly financial results last month, Microsoft reported that patent licensing revenue decreased 21 percent due to a decline in licensed units and license revenue per unit.
Lenovo could use a boost, too. In its worldwide smartphones report in May, Gartner noted that Lenovo lost its ranking as one of the top five smartphone vendors as well as one of the top 10 mobile phone vendor market in the first quarter this year.
"Lenovo had another challenging quarter with its worldwide smartphone sales declining 33 percent," Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner, said. "Its smartphone sales fell by 75 percent in Greater China, where it faced strong competition from local brands. Lenovo is also struggling to bring synergies with Motorola's device business, managing lower costs and overheads of the two brands."