Microsoft Reportedly Waiving Windows Phone Fee in India

Microsoft may be taking a page from Google's Android. The software giant reportedly is licensing its Windows Phone mobile operating system for free to two phone makers in India.

According to a story in Thursday's Times of India, the company is waiving the license fee for "at least two Indian phone makers." Plans to release Windows Phone devices in India by those phone manufacturers, Lava and Karbonn, were announced at the Mobile World Congress last month, although no mention had been made of the free licensing.

Google's Android, which is by far the dominant mobile operating system worldwide, is provided to phone makers for free. Both Lava and Karbonn also offer Android phones.

'Smart Move'

The Times said Microsoft had been in talks with Indian phone makers since last year, but the talks were stalled until the license fee was waived. The fee historically reportedly ranges from $20 to $30 per phone. Windows Phone devices make up less than 10 percent of the smartphone market in India, and developing countries represent a big growth area for the devices.

This appears to be the first time Microsoft has waived the fee. In fact, it even charged Nokia from $20 to $30 for each Lumia phone when Nokia agreed to use Windows Phone exclusively two years ago.

Microsoft has declined to comment on the report.

Ramon Llamas, an analyst with industry research firm IDC, told us that the fee waiving "is a smart move to gain traction with some key vendors in key markets" that the company needs for growth, like India. He said this was "beyond testing the waters."

He added that a big question is "how will this play out with other vendors elsewhere." If two Indian phone makers could hold out adopting Windows Phone until they got a free license, why wouldn't other makers?

$2 Billion from Android

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