Buried under the massive Kindle news is something arguably more important: Microsoft just got Samsung to pay them to use Android.

This means that two of the major Android OEMs (Samsung and HTC) now pay Microsoft to use the “free” Android OS. The third (Motorola) was just bought by Google. 

Think about that for a second.

Samsung was really the last remaining hope in the Android OEM ecosystem. Now that they’ve agreed that they have to pay Microsoft, it’s going to be hard for others to argue that they shouldn’t have to.

Evil or not, it sure looks like Steve Ballmer was right: Android is not free. No, you don’t have to pay Google to use it — but you do have to pay Microsoft. 

And that’s genius. If you decide to use Windows Phone, Microsoft wins because you pay them a licensing fee. If you decide to use Android, Microsoft wins because you pay them a licensing fee.

This will force more vendors to consider Windows Phone because, why not? They’re paying Microsoft either way.

More broadly: what does this mean for companies like Amazon, which now have their own version of Android? Will they too pay the licensing fee?

After all, it sure looks like the Kindle Fire is about to become the Android tablet. 

What a day for Android. It was just pushed behind the scenes as the thing that powers that awesome, cheap Amazon Kindle tablet. And made into that thing you pay Microsoft to use.