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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Microsoft Apps to be Pre-Installed on Some Android Devices

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and some other Android phones will come with Microsoft MSFT -0.06% apps, as the software giant strikes deals to push its apps into as many hands as possible.
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In a bid to get Microsoft’s mobile apps into as many hands as possible, the company is teaming up with unlikely allies: Companies that make smartphones powered by Android software. Android is managed by Google and competes directly with Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating software.
Last month, Samsung 005930.SE +0.75% unveiled a new Galaxy flagship smartphone that came with a pre-installed digital folder containing Microsoft apps including file-sharing software OneDrive and voice-calling service Skype. On Monday, Microsoft and Samsung announced an enlarged partnership that will mean even more of Samsung’s Android phones and tablets will come with Microsoft apps, in some cases including Microsoft’s ubiquitous Office productivity software suite.
Pre-installed apps can propel usage because people tend to use what’s on their phones or computers already. It can also save people a step of looking for apps in mobile-phone app stores and downloading them.
Microsoft also announced similar arrangements with a handful of other, mostly small, handset companies that make Android mobile phones or tablets. Those new mobile-hardware partners include Dell, which has made Android tablets, Canada’s Hipstreet and DEXP of Russia.
Microsoft is continuing to try to make its own mobile phone system, Windows Phone, a success. But at the same time Microsoft is pushing its software like Office, Skype and Web-search service Bing into as many venues as possible — even on non-Windows computing devices.
The company’s Android-handset deals offer a window on Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s focus on building the user base of the company’s products, not just profits. As a result, Nadella has overseen the transformation of cash-cow products like Microsoft Office into apps for the iPad and free apps for Android and iPhone smartphones.
Microsoft employees are judged by metrics including new customer signups for Microsoft services and how much time people spend using the product. These metrics are hardly novel for companies that offer Web services, but they are a new focus for Microsoft, which built its empire by devoting all its energies to selling software rather than how often it was used.
“It is somewhat of a shift; you can see Satya’s fingerprints on this,” said Peggy Johnson, who was appointed last September as Microsoft’s executive vice president of business development.
Johnson was responsible for striking the pre-installed apps deals, which she said could lead to more consumer usage of other Microsoft software. “If we can engage [consumers] and get them pleased with the usage on their device, they’ll turn around and say, ‘Well, what else do you have, Microsoft?” Johnson said in an interview Monday.
Microsoft and Samsung recently ended a legal dispute related to patents, and some reports have speculated the confidential terms of the companies’ peace agreement may have included an arrangement for Samsung to pre-install Microsoft apps on the Korean manufacturer’s smartphones.
Johnson declined to directly address that speculation. She said the mobile arrangements with Samsung were “an expansion of our existing relationship.”
Companies typically pay makers of personal computers and mobile phones to include their software on those devices. Johnson declined to discuss the financial terms of Microsoft’s deals with Samsung and the other Android device makers.

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