Though Microsoft has struggled to tap into the mobile market, it’s actually earning money hand over fist from an unlikely source: Android smartphones. According to Asymco, which cites a report released today by Citi analyst Walter Pritchard, Microsoft earns $5 for every HTC phone sold that runs the Android platform. The Steve Ballmer Tax, as we’ll henceforth call it, stems from a patent settlement with HTC over intellectual property infringement that requires the smartphone maker to pay Microsoft a pretty hefty fee for each unit sold–a settlement that is bringing Microsoft Paul-Allen-megayacht-loads of cash.
Asymco estimates that with 30 million HTC Android smartphones shipped, Microsoft has made up to $150 million worth of revenues from the settlement. That’s roughly five times as much income that Microsoft has earned from its own Windows Phone licenses, Asymco adds.
What’s more, Pritchard says Microsoft is filing suits against other Android phone makers, and could see a similar patent settlement with potentially even higher fees per device (between $7.50 to $12.50).
The lesson here: If you can’t quite get your own mobile efforts off the ground, try suing the crap out of your competitors.