Lenovo inks deal to pre-load Microsoft apps on devices

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Lenovo inked a deal to preload popular Microsoft apps on its Android-powered devices “over the next several years.”

The China-based smartphone vendor said it expects to ship “millions” of devices around the world running Microsoft Office, OneDrive and Skype. The collaboration, which builds on an existing relationship, also includes a patent cross-licensing deal that covers Lenovo and Motorola gadgets.

"Our collaboration with Microsoft will create new opportunities for our customers to take advantage of some of Microsoft's most popular apps," said Christian Eigen, Lenovo’s leader of corporate alliances. "Installing Microsoft apps and services on our devices will bring additional value to consumers around the globe."

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Lenovo acquired the Motorola handset business from Google in 2014 in a $2.91 billion deal, and the company began phasing out Motorola in a rebranding effort earlier this year. The company finally unveiled its first Windows 10 Mobile phone last month after announcing a deal to offer a Microsoft-powered handset two years ago.

Microsoft, meanwhile, has shifted its focus toward mobile software and services as it continues to retreat from the smartphone business. The software giant said last month that its phone revenue dropped a whopping 71 percent during the latest quarter, and last year it took a $7.6 billion write-down related to its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia in 2014.

Lenovo was the fourth-largest smartphone vendor worldwide during the fourth quarter of 2014, according to IDC, claiming 5.1 percent of the market to edge out Xiaomi. But the Microsoft pact may have as much to do with tablets as it does with phones: IDC recently reported that Lenovo was the No. 3 tablet vendor in the second quarter of 2014, posting a 3.1 percent increase in shipments despite a rapidly shrinking market worldwide.

So as users increasingly look to tablets to increase productivity rather than watch video or play games, Microsoft is likely looking to Lenovo to increase its presence among slate users.

For more:
- see this Microsoft press release

Related articles:
IDC: Worldwide tablet market slid 12.3% in Q2
Microsoft's phone revenue drops 71% as pivot to the cloud continues
Mobile and smartphones almost entirely absent at Microsoft's Build conference

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