In an arithmetic-filled tweet yesterday, Asymco analyst Horace Dediu claimed that Microsoft made more money from sales of HTC Android phones in Q2 than it did from total WP7 sales. While the numbers he used were not exactly "official," His rough estimate goes like this: MS would have received $15 for each of the 1.4 million WP7 devices sold, for a toal of $21 million. HTC sold an estimated 12 million phones, the bulk of them running Android. And according to Citi, HTC would be required to pay Microsoft $5 for each of those 12 million, totalling $60 million.
Of course, there are plenty of ways to dispute the exact numbers, but this raises some interesting ideas. Firstly, despite recent reports of WP7's "abysmal" revenue, we know that Microsoft is committed to it. So by collecting money from companies like HTC and, possibly, other OEMs who use Android, they can funnel money back into floating WP7 until it presumably takes off in the near future. That allows them to cut losses until it makes a profit, much like what happened for the first five years of Xbox.
Even more interestingly, revenue generated by Android sales could actually drive OEMs away from Android and more toward WP7. One of Android's biggest draws for manufacturers is that it that Google offers it up for free. However, as we see from HTC's situation, Microsoft does not. This, coupled with absolute power over WP7 licensing, gives MS the potential power to make it cheaper for device manufacturers to license WP7 from Microsoft than to get it "free" from Google. Quietly brilliant.