Microsoft strikes deal with Samsung, other Android OEMs, to pre-load its services

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is expanding its partnership with Samsung Electronics to pre-load some of its software and services on Samsung's Android devices. Further, Microsoft struck deals with several lesser-known Android device makers to do the same thing, continuing a strategy of getting its services key real estate on phones and tablets running Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android platform.

Microsoft continues to struggle in the global smartphones market; its Windows Phone captured just 2.7 percent of the smartphone market in 2014, compared to Android's 81.5 percent, according to research firm IDC. Yet under CEO Satya Nadella, Microsoft has taken a dramatically different approach to its struggles in mobile: The firm has focused on distributing its Office applications and services like Skype and OneDrive onto rival platforms like iOS and Android.

For Microsoft, the ability to get its software and services on Android phones, especially those from Samsung, allows it to reach more potential users as well as compete with similar offerings from Google.

"We've proven that we're not afraid to look outside ourselves to reinvent ourselves," Peggy Jonhson, who left Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM) last fall to become Microsoft's executive vice president of business development, wrote in a company blog post. "We've received fantastic customer feedback for making Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype available across all platforms. But, we're far from done. Now we see an opportunity to turn our focus to our device partners--easing mobile access to great apps and services for customers by pre-installing them directly on the device."

Microsoft's rapprochement with Samsung began in February when the companies agreed to settle a dispute over how much money Samsung would pay to Microsoft to license the software giant's patents that Samsung uses in its Android smartphones and tablets.

Then, at the recent Mobile World Congress trade show, Samsung announced it would pre-install Microsoft's OneNote, OneDrive and Skype apps onto its forthcoming flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge. Those phones will also come with 100 GB of additional free cloud storage for two years through Microsoft's OneDrive.

Today, Microsoft said that in the first half of 2015, Samsung is planning to pre-install Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype onto certain Android tablets. Further, Samsung will begin selling Microsoft's Office 365 service alongside its own Knox enterprise security service.

"Great things happen when you converge services and devices," Johnson said in a statement. "Our partnership with Samsung is emblematic of our efforts to bring the best of Microsoft's productivity services to everyone, on every device, so people can be productive wherever, however and whenever they want."

Aside from Samsung, Johnson announced similar deals with Dell, TrekStor of Germany, JP Sa Couto of Portugal, Datamatic of Italy, DEXP of Russia, Hipstreet of Canada, QMobile of Pakistan, Tecno of Africa, and Casper of Turkey. Johnson wrote that those companies, along with Samsung, will pre-install Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, OneDrive and Skype on Android devices coming to market later this year.

The push to get Microsoft services on other platforms is likely to continue. Microsoft is going to enhance its Cortana digital assistant for its own Windows 10 platform and then offer it as a standalone app on other platforms including Android and Apple's iOS, according to a recent Reuters report.

For more:
- see this release
- see this Microsoft blog post
- see this CNET article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Re/code article

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