Microsoft to debut new Android phone hardware

Microsoft and Qualcomm will debut a new Android phone in March 2018. The new phone is intended to show what can be done with the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 system-on-chip and be a showcase of features for OEMs to integrate into consumer devices.

Android phone hardware

Qualcomm's soon-to-be-released Snapdragon 845 system on chip will usher in a new level of highly-integrated performance features for phones running Android. Combining LTE, Wifi, Bluetooth, ARM processing, RAM, cache, and flexible storage options, the new SOC will be optimised for the latest release of Android, and pack a big punch in a small package.

Microsoft and Qualcomm will debut a reference design to OEMs, showing them what's possible with the new chips from Qualcomm, furthering Microsoft's ambitions in the Android space. Many people are not aware that Microsoft owns key patents and technologies at the core of the Android operating system. Google purchased Android from its originators (not Microsoft), and put teams to work on building the core Android operating system into a competitor to face down the challenges of competing with Apple's iOS.

Google, Microsoft, and Android

Google not only set about building a competitor for iOS on a feature parity level, they also made Android available as a phone operating system to other phone manufacturers, enabling wide-spread adoption of Android, and allowing Google to collect data, and hook consumers in to Google services like Gmail, Google Search, Google Apps, Google Play, and YouTube.

Of course, Android becomes an endpoint for Google to serve advertisements to its millions of users.

While Microsoft has declared Windows Phone OS dead, Microsoft also owns much of the core guts of Android, and has extracted payments from many Android phone OEMs and directly from Google along the way.

Microsoft and Qualcomm

Microsoft's recent close relationship with Qualcomm has largely flown under the radar with consumers, but has been widely known in tech circles for a few years.

Microsoft and Qualcomm together developed an ecosystem for WIndows on ARM, with Qualcomm supplying the chips and hardware, and Microsoft supplying the software.

Qualcomm Snapdragon chips power all of the modern Android mobile phones, and now the new Snapdragon 845 chips are set to power both Android phones and a new breed of tablets and laptops with WIndows 10 S from Microsoft.

Qualcomm and Apple

Apple relied on Qualcomm for years to supply the modem and cellular chips for the iPhone. That relationship recently soured, and Apple has thrown hundreds of millions of dollars at Intel in an effort to bring Intel's modems to the iPhone as an adequate replacement for Qualcomm's chips. Apple's only other option was to source modems from Samsung, but, Apple and Samsung are no longer best friends, with Apple moving its iPhone component orders away from Samsung and into the hands of TSMC, LG, Toshiba, Japan Display, and others, with assembly remaining with largely with Foxconn.

While Qualcomm and Apple are locked in a bitter patent-royalty feud over Qualcomm's licencing model, potentially worth many billions of dollars, Qualcomm has buddied up with Microsoft to sell chips to Microsoft's partners in the laptop and tablet space, while retaining Qualcomm's existing relationships with Google and Android phone manufacturers.

While Qualcomm waits for the lawyers to sort out the mess, Qualcomm is not receiving patent licensing fees from Apple and Apple's supply chain partners. This has been partly offset Qualcomm's new relationship with Microsoft and Microsoft's OEMs.

Microsoft and the Android phone endgame

Returning to our premise at the top of the article, Microsoft will be showing off its reference design for the new Qualcomm-powered Android phones, and working hard to have Android phone manufacturers adopt the technology.

This brings in more Android licensing fees for Microsoft, more chip business for Qualcomm, and supplants Google with Microsoft as the software supplier, giving Microsoft the leverage it needs to insist/offer those Android phone manufacturers the option/requirement to include Microsoft apps on those shiny new Android phones. Microsoft's end-game here is to hook consumers in to the Microsoft ecosystem rather than the Google ecosystem.

Microsoft's ecosystem includes OneDrive, Office, Skype, Microsoft Account ID, Xbox, Hotmail (Outlook), and more, as well as shining the spotlight on Microsoft's upcoming Mixed Reality tools ahead of Google's Daydream VR platform.

The endgame: Microsoft needs those smartphone endpoints and smartphone users to make its MR/AR/VR investments flourish outside of the PC and Xbox.

The Microsoft-Qualcomm-Android phone

Expect your shiny new Microsoft-Qualcomm-Android phone to have a USB-C port for charging and synchronising, sport a touchscreen, a fast Snapdragon processor, with LTE, Bluetooth, Wifi, NFC, front and rear cameras, great battery life, MR/VR/AR reader compatibility, Microsoft Apps, access to the Microsoft Store, and all kinds of marketing cross-talk with PCs and Xbox.

Until next time,

Xavier Zymantas


XYZ Media Group

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