Microsoft curating Android tablet ecosystem

Microsoft has begun curating its Android tablet ecosystem, working with partners to produce amazing new devices running Android. Why? Microsoft owns core components of Android; has a partnership with Qualcomm; and Qualcomm has deep relationships with Android phone manufacturers. High quality cost-friendly Android tablets are coming.

Why is Microsoft putting energy in to Android?

Microsoft owns patents over core components of the Android operating system. It has been successful in extracting payments from Google, and payments from Android device manufacturers in the recent past, and is now ready to delve more deeply in to the Android world.

With the death of WIndows Phone as an operating system, and the slow but budding growth of Windows Core, Continuum, Windows-10-on-everything, and Office-on-everything, it might seem odd at first that Microsoft is willing to devote any effort to Android at all.

We're not talking Android smartphones here. We're talking Android tablets. Microsoft's strategy here is to curate an ecosystem of Android tablets as a layer below the Surface line of WIndows 10 tablets, and similar Windows-powered tablets from other partners such as HP and Lenovo.

Microsoft is working with Qualcomm on delivering a hardware platform based on Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, as a reference design for a new layer of Android-based tablets. This will become the basis for Android phone makers to quickly build and ship Android tablets to existing Android users.

Microsoft and Qualcomm

Microsoft's efforts alongside Qualcomm deliver a compelling proposition for Android phone manufacturers to quickly develop Android tablets. Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Oppo, OnePlus, Razer, and others could deliver Android tablets with good brand recognition and and the cachet of a (primarily) Google-backed Android world.

Included with these tablets are very likely to be pre-loaded Microsoft software, such as the Microsoft Launcher, Word, Office, Skype, Outlook, Hotmail, LinkedIn, and the Xbox app. These tablets will have access to a Microsoft-hosted Android store, as well as the Google Play Android app store.

Qualcomm gets to sell more chips and hardware. Microsoft gets its apps in front of customers on Android, who also likely have a Windows PC at home. Win-Win.

Microsoft and Android

Microsoft can use these Android tablets to introduce customers to the flexibility of the Microsoft ecosystem across PC and tablet devices, and interact with Android phones. Anything a new customer's Android tablet can't do, their Windows PC can do. The next time they update their PC, they can get a Surface tablet or a HP/Dell/Lenovo/Samsung Windows tablet instead of a full PC box or laptop.

Microsoft and Windows 10 on Surface

Most customers love the Surface line as powerful and productive Windows tablets and as a PC alternative. Most customers love their Surface device.

Surface is also premium, expensive, and overkill for the average Joe who doesn't process thousands of rows of Excel data every day.

Having a line of Microsoft-co-branded Android tablets is the ideal solution for these average-level customers, who still get to enjoy the Microsoft apps they know and love, via Android, but hooking in to Office 365, Azure, OneDrive, etc.

Remember, Microsoft from 2016 onwards is now far more about the "cloud" than "Windows".

Microsoft-sponsored Android tablets

Microsoft lost money selling Windows phones. They lost money selling Windows tablets (Windows RT). They lost money selling Surface devices for a few generations.

Microsoft follows the money. The money is now in cloud services, and getting apps talking to the cloud from popular Android phones and tablets is the new way forward.

Windows on the desktop is in decline. Cloud is king.

Windows on the desktop is being used less and less at home. Customers are using Apple iOS at home, Android at home, they're less frequently using Windows. Microsoft needs eyeballs on screens, fingers on apps, it needs Microsoft apps that talk to the Microsoft cloud, and do all the internet-y things in a way that draws customers in to the Microsoft cloud rather than the Apple or Google could.

Once services are delivered via the cloud, they need an internet connection, a device, and an operating system layer, and an app layer.

Microsoft no longer cares whether the operating system layer is Windows or Android or iOS. It's the connection to the cloud (preferably Microsoft's cloud) that matters.

Until next time,

Xavier Zymantas

XYZtech XYZ Media Group

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