A report this week by the SamMobile news site, saying that Samsung will pre-install Microsoft apps on the upcoming Galaxy S6 smartphone, would be easy to dismiss as a crazy rumor. But upon closer examination, this one could have some merit. And if it happens, it would be a major milestone in Microsoft and CEO Satya Nadella’s push to reinvent the company.
Here’s the key piece of context: The report comes just days after Microsoft and Samsung announced a settlement in their patent dispute. The companies have declined to say anything beyond a basic statement acknowledging the settlement, and the initial question was whether Microsoft was able to recoup the disputed patent licensing fees from Samsung.
But what’s more valuable than a big financial payoff? A prime position for Microsoft’s apps on the top-selling Android smartphone. This would be a high-profile payoff from Microsoft’s move to look beyond its previous “Windows first” approach and release apps for competing platforms, in some cases before the Windows versions are released.
It’s also not a stretch given the history. Microsoft has repeatedly demonstrated its ability to turn a legal dispute into a strategic business advantage, like the time the company settled a patent dispute in a way that essentially loaned the plaintiff the funds for a legal battle against Sony. Or the time it ended up with a stake in Barnes & Noble’s Nook business following a patent dispute with the bookseller. (No, that didn’t turn out so well, but you get the idea.)
According to the SamMobile report, the apps to be pre-installed on the Galaxy S6 would be OneDrive, Office, OneNote, and Skype.
We put out feelers this morning to check on the story, and neither company is commenting, but we could know the answer soon: the Galaxy S6 is expected to be unveiled in early March, prior to Mobile World Congress. For now, we’re filing this one under “not at all inconceivable.”