When a manufacturer is preparing to release a smartphone or tablet, plenty of things factor into its decision on how to price the product. While our thoughts usually first turn to the bill of sales for all the hardware components, software can also play a significant role. A manufacturer can get away with using Android (sans Google apps) as a free open-source option, while licensing costs can be substantial for platforms like Windows Phone, which is understood to run up to $30 per device. With Windows 8 on the horizon, we’ll be seeing the new OS come to tablets in the form of Windows RT. The latest rumor suggests that Microsoft’s licensing for RT could be excessive even when compared to Windows Phone, threatening to jack-up the prices of these tablets.
Supposedly, per-unit licensing fees for Windows RT will cost manufacturers between $80 and $95 dollars. As a result, we could expect to see premium prices for all such tablets, even those with comparatively lower-end hardware. Some estimates look to a lineup of launch devices with a price floor of over $500, and only going up from there.
That could be a risky move for Microsoft, though it just as well may help to establish the perception of Windows 8 as a higher-quality option than Android; after all, Apple has shown how higher prices don’t have to drive away sales, so long as consumers equate them with premium products.