Give me a freaking break!
I was just reading a post over on TechCrunch. I do not know why I allow myself to get drawn into reading this drivel, but I always seem to.
When are the anti-Microsoft crowd going to grow up and realize that this is a business, and we are all in it to make money and increase the value of that business.
(including, of course, Google and Apple – but it is somehow ok for them)
For those who do not want to waste time and bandwidth reading the actual post, I will summarize a bit:
- Microsoft participated in the consortium which purchased the “Nortel Patents”, even though MS apparently did not need to
- Microsoft is pursuing licensing agreements with Android phone vendors based on other IP which MS already had
- Microsoft stands to make a lot of money from these agreements
- Microsoft is obviously “lame” for doing this (seriously, who actually uses the term “lame” anymore?)
- Microsoft is doing this (obviously) because they cannot compete with Android by being innovative.
- It would be OK if Apple were doing this, since Apple can do no wrong
So lets take a look at this from a more realistic point of view.
- Microsoft is a business. It is in business to make money, and increase shareholder value. Period.
- Microsoft owns certain patents. A lot of them. It owned this IP before participating in the Nortel deal.
- Microsoft felt that participating in the consortium to buy the Nortel patents was valuable in terms of protecting its IP position.
So far so good. Lets look at the Android situation.
- Android (apparently) infringes upon a number of patents which Microsoft owns. I am not in a position to assess this, but I would suspect there is some validity to the claim or Android phone vendors would not be signing agreements with MS without fighting.
- If this is the case, Google is making money selling something for which they do not have clear intellectual property rights. And this is somehow Microsoft’s fault?
The statement is made that Android is winning because Google “out-innovates” Microsoft. Lets compare the two:
- Google has a mobile phone OS named Android, based on an existing open-source OS, using a programming model which some believe they do not have valid IP rights to, and using a UI paradigm which clearly borrows heavily from another famous mobile phone (though I do think Android improves on it).
- Microsoft, after lagging for a long time, has introduced a new mobile phone OS, written from the ground up, using a unique UI model which is clearly theirs, and with a development environment to which they own the IP, and which is also highly innovative.
Whether WP7 succeeds or fails, and whether you happen to like it or not, from an innovation perspective it is clearly well beyond Android.
So what is Microsoft’s strategy? Well, it appears to be two-pronged.
Having invested heavily in innovation, they are clearly focused on the future of WP7. They intend it to be a success. Whether or not they are successful is more a question of their timing and marketing ability than their level of innovation.
At the same time, Microsoft has quite rightly taken action to preserve the value of its intellectual property. They have also leveraged their ownership of this IP to make money and increase shareholder value.
It seems to me like Microsoft is doing exactly what a business is supposed to do, and doing it well in this case.
Finally, I just have to comment on this little snippet form the post:
“When Apple takes these agressive (sic) approaches on patents, it’s no more right, but at least they can argue that they have a winning product (the iPhone) that they’re trying to protect. Their goal isn’t to get other companies licensing their patents, it’s to run those guys out of the market”
At least he acknowledges that Apple is “no more right” than anyone else in this process. It is the final statement that gets me. So, it is more admirable to crush your competitors and drive them out of business than to license technology to them, allowing both parties to survive and make money?
Of course it is, since we all know it is better to only have one choice in the market, as long as that choice is Apple!
(in case that was too subtle for any of you, that was sarcasm )