Xiaomi’s path to the West gets a little easier with Microsoft patent deal

The Xiaomi Mi 5.

Xiaomi and Microsoft have announced a deal that will move the companies a little closer together, while giving Xiaomi a slightly less treacherous path for expansion into Western markets. Xiaomi is buying some Microsoft patents, and the two companies have inked a cross-licensing deal for patents, and, like many vendors, Xiaomi is committing to bundle Microsoft apps on its Android phones. Wang Xiang, senior vice president at Xiaomi, describes the deal as "a very big collaboration agreement between the two companies."

The most surprising part of the announcement is that Xiaomi is buying (not licensing) 1,500 patents from Microsoft. Reuters notes that the patents include "voice communications, multimedia and cloud computing." Microsoft licenses its computing patents to most Android OEMs, and the deal often includes bundling Microsoft apps with future devices. Outright sales of some of the patents has not happened previously, however.

The app bundling part of the deal seems pretty standard for these agreements. The press release notes that, starting in September, "Xiaomi Android devices, including Mi 5, Mi Max, Mi 4s, Redmi Note 3 and Redmi 3, will come pre-installed with Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Skype applications."

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