Microsoft is said to be talking to HTC about adding Windows Phone to its Android smartphone line-up. What’s even more interesting is that Redmond seems to be offering a sweetheart deal, practically giving WP8 away at little or no cost. Microsoft could in fact eliminate the license deal altogether.
The news comes just weeks after Microsoft’s takeover of Nokia, valued at $7.2 billion. It is rather puzzling though. If Microsoft was so close to offering Windows Phone without a license fee, why didn’t it make the move a year or two ago?
Just a couple of months ago it was rumoured that HTC was ready to ditch Windows Phone and go all-Android. Such a move would have made financial sense, since HTC’s 8S and 8X weren’t very successful and the company could cut costs by focusing solely on Android. By contrast, the HTC One was a success and the One range is about to include three phones for three distinct market segments.
If HTC accepts Microsoft’s offer, it might also have some hardware implications. Windows Phone has some rather specific hardware requirements and these include Qualcomm SoCs. In other words, if HTC decides to use the same hardware for Android and Windows Phones, it would shut the door for competing SoC makers such as Nvidia and MediaTek.
It could be a very interesting development. As HTC is bleeding cash as we speak, the management could face a lot of pressure from shareholders to take the deal in a desperate effort to gain support from Microsoft.