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Xiaomi buys Microsoft phone patents

Microsoft patents, Xiaomi

Software maker Microsoft Corp is selling about 1,500 of its patents to Chinese device maker Xiaomi, a rare departure for the U.S. company and part of what the two companies say is the start of a long-term partnership.


The deal also includes a patent cross-licensing arrangement and a commitment by Xiaomi to install copies of Microsoft software, including Office and Skype, on its phones and tablets.


"This is a very big collaboration agreement between the two companies," Wang Xiang, senior vice president at Xiaomi, said by telephone ahead of the deal.


Analysts said Xiaomi's ambitions to be a major player outside China were hampered by weak patent protection and a fear of a prolonged legal battle.


"This deal might just give them enough of a patent trove to move to Western markets," said Sameer Singh, a UK-based analyst. "Their position in China has been under constant attack from even lower-end Android vendors, so moving overseas is now a necessity."

"这一交易可能使他们获得大量专利权足以进入西方市场,"英国分析师Sameer Singh称。"他们在中国市场的地位不断受到打击,甚至是来自低端安卓手机厂商的打击,目前看来拓展海外市场是必要之举。"

Shipments of Xiaomi phones fell 9 percent year-on-year in China in the first quarter, according to Strategy Analytics, and its market share dipped to 12 percent from 13 percent, squeezed not only by Huawei and Samsung Electronics but also smaller contenders including Oppo and Vivo.

根据Strategy Analytics,小米手机第一季在中国的出货量较上年同期减少9%,市场份额从13%下滑至12%,不仅受到华为和三星的挤压,也面临Oppo和Vivo等较小对手的追赶。

Wang said the acquisition of Microsoft patents, which included voice communications, multimedia and cloud computing, on top of some 3,700 patents the Chinese company filed last year, were "an important step forwards to support our expansion internationally."


Xiaomi launched its first U.S. device earlier this month, a TV set-top box it developed in cooperation with Google. Xiaomi has also launched a tablet which runs a version of Microsoft's Windows operating system.


Jonathan Tinter, corporate vice president at Microsoft, said the company was keen to tap into Xiaomi's young, affluent and educated users by having its products pre-installed on their devices. He declined to go into detail about the patent deals, but said the overall deal was something "we do only with a few strategic partners."

微软企业副总裁Jonathan Tinter表示,将微软产品预装在小米设备中,进而与那些收入和教育水平较高的年轻小米用户建立联系,这是微软乐于看到的结果。他拒绝详谈双方专利交易细节,但称"整体而言,我们只与少数战略伙伴才会签订那样的协议"。


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