According to a new report from Korea Times, Samsung is considering Windows Phone again, by releasing cheaper handsets running on Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.1 platform. Samsung is reportedly running "pilot programs" to test the operating system on current devices, but the phone giant will not make a move until an agreement is made with Microsoft.
Back in August of last year, Microsoft filed legal action against Samsung over a contract dispute, which both companies agreed to back in 2011. Back in 2011, Samsung voluntarily entered into a legally binding contract with Microsoft in a cross-licensing IP agreement involving Android patents. This ultimately benefited both parties -- mostly Microsoft since it involved $1 billion a year in royalties. Samsung was complying with the agreement and was paying Microsoft to use certain Android patents.
Samsung then used the Microsoft acquisition of the Nokia Devices and Services business as an excuse not to pay Microsoft, claiming that Microsoft has now become a competitor in the phone market. Samsung also claimed that Microsoft's acquisition voided the agreement with Samsung. This places the Korean phone manufacturer in a tough situation where they feel that sharing sensitive information to Microsoft could now be harmful towards their own business, regardless of what partnership or agreement they originally made.
If these two companies can sit down and come to some sort of agreement, we can expect to see new Windows 10 powered phones from Samsung possibly by the end of the year. Although the focus seems to be on "cheaper" Windows Phone devices, which Microsoft has been doing a great job thus far in that market, there is no word if Samsung will outfit an existing phone with Windows -- like they did with the HTC One M8 for Windows.
"If the companies settle their litigation, then Samsung will manufacture handsets powered by the Microsoft-developed mobile platform," a source told Korea Times. "The timing could be the third quarter of this year at the earliest." The last time the world saw a Samsung Windows Phone handset was the release of the 5-inch Samsung ATIV SE back on Verizon in Spring of 2014. Samsung doesn't even offer a device that runs Windows Phone 8.1, Microsoft's latest mobile operating system, out of the box.
"Microsoft values and respects our long partnership with Samsung, is committed to it, and expects it to continue," Microsoft's Deputy General Counsel David Howard stated in regards to the Samsung patent lawsuit. Microsoft is still interested in being partners with Samsung, so this idea of having Windows Phone running on Samsung devices is still a possibility -- Samsung just needs to come to an understanding with Microsoft.
Despite how some may feel about Samsung as a company, having them back Windows Phone is something the platform needs. Think of it in a business perspective. Samsung is a worldwide phone giant and has 'indisputable strengths' in marketing. After all, its better to have more partners push your product than have them be against it. According to the latest stats from Kantar, the already dwindling market share of Windows Phone has slumped even further across different regions around the world. As much as you are probably sick of hearing it, Windows 10 will be make or break for Microsoft's mobile operating system venture.
Should Samsung jump on board the Windows Phone bandwagon again? Do you think it will benefit the platform if they did?