It appears we can expect an increased interchange of technologies between imaging giant Canon and software maker Microsoft in the near future, thanks to to a patent agreement that was signed by the two parties on Wednesday.
Unfortunately the brief statement issued by Microsoft does not reveal an awful lot of detail about the type of patents included in the agreement or how they would be put to use, but simply says that the two companies have "broadened their strategic alliance with the announcement of a broad patent cross-licensing" and that "with this agreement, Microsoft and Canon gain licenses to each other’s highly valued and growing patent portfolios."
However, the text also goes on to say that the "agreement covers a broad range of products and services each company offers, including certain digital imaging and mobile consumer products." In practice this could mean that Canon imaging technology will be used in future Lumia smartphones made by Nokia, the device division of which is now owned by Microsoft. On the other hand Canon cameras could benefit from some of Microsoft's and Nokia's mobile and wireless knowledge.
Without any detailed knowledge of the deal it looks as if it could be beneficial to both companies. With the Nokia 808 and Lumia 1020, 930 and 1520 Microsoft and Nokia have already designed and marketed some of the best smartphone cameras money can buy, and with Canon's help could strengthen their position further.
At the same time Canon is lagging behind Samsung and even eternal rival Nikon in the connected camera game and its Wi-Fi enabled cameras, such as the "Facebook-ready" Powershot N1 and Powershot N100, struggle to find a larger audience. A little help from a mobile device manufacturer could be exactly what's needed to get the company ready for the connected age. That said, with the two parties not releasing any detailed information about the agreement at this point all of the above remains speculation. We'll have to wait for future camera and device releases to see what Microsoft and Canon joining forces actually means on a product level.