All major Android backers are now paying royalties to Microsoft for using Android in smartphones, even the likes of Samsung and HTC. Goldman Sachs estimated the Windows maker could rake in a whopping $444 million this year alone from Android patent pacts, easily exceeding Windows Phone licensing revenues. Now that the $199 Kindle Fire tablet has come into full view, the question arises whether Amazon, too, will run to Microsoft’s arms seeking Android patent protection.

The two companies last year had cut a cross-licensing agreement. However, the Seattle Times notes that the 2010 deal covers the existing Kindle e-readers but not Android, which powers the Kindle Fire tablet. TechCrunch’s MG Seigler, who saw early prototypes of the Fire tablet, described  a forked Android version which is at the core of the Kindle Fire experience:

expand full story