If hushes in media are to be believed then all is not buttery smooth between Samsung and Google. Google has expressed concerns of the growing monopoly of Samsung in the Android market, leaving players such as HTC, Motorola and LG to bite the dust. If this report by WSJ is to be believed then the now departed head of Android Team Andy Rubin had already expressed his concerns over the growing powers of Samsung.
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This is indeed an interesting quote from the mentioned article in WSJ:
Google executives worry that Samsung has become so big—the South Korean company sells about 40% of the gadgets that use Google’s Android software—that it could flex its muscle to renegotiate their arrangement and eat into Google’s lucrative mobile-ad business, people familiar with the matter said.
Although one cannot disagree with the fears of Google, but has Samsung’s success in the smart phone market been beneficial to Android as a platform? In fact, if you take Samsung right out of the equation, how many of us are still willing to bet that Android as a mobile platform would be so close to Apple’s run away leader iOS? Yes, HTC and Motorola and LG to an extent have produced some terrific devices, the likes of HTC One X, HTC Thunderbolt, LG Nexus 4, LG Optimus G and Motorola Droid Razr are some of the best Android phones out there, but on a very commercial scale these devices have not sold a massive number. Compare these to the likes of Samsung Galaxy S, S II and S III or even the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, you clearly see it’s the Samsung made Android devices that have been hit among customers.
Plenty of people have loathed the plastic construction of Samsung, but eventually the ease of use of the device combined with easy availability, terrific marketing and fairly affordable price tags means Samsung has been the real leading player when it comes to Android. In short, Android needs Samsung if they are to keep up the pace with iOS.
So, let us examine a little where did this story of potential tensions actually originate.
Who knew at the event Samsung Galaxy S IV was running the latest Android version 4.2.2?
Samsung announced the Galaxy S IV, their latest flagship device, in an event held at Radio City in New York. In an hour or so long razzmatazz or let’s just say a unique way of presenting a product with lot of music and terribly written story lines of musicals not once was the word Google or Android uttered. In fact, a lot of people present at the launch were clueless of the Android version the device was running until a specs chart was shown at the end of the play which confirmed that the 5 inch device would be running Android version 4.2.2. This is actually a pretty big deal, because apart from the Nexus 4 device, none of the Android smart phones have Android version 4.2 also known as JellyBean out of the box. So, if everything was picture perfect like people are pretending to, then Samsung could have made a pretty big deal out of the fact that they are running the latest and greatest from Google.
Why not use Google Apps?
Another argument that we can put forth is the fact that most of the features that Samsung showcased at the event in New York during the launch are already available as various Google apps as solutions to the smart phones. In fact most of the other OEM’s decide to go with these rather than develop their own alternatives. Take S-Voice for example.
We all love Google Now and how many of us realistically have used the S-Voice on the Galaxy S III? The answer definitely is not a whole lot. So, in the name of self promotion and being independent of Google’s brand, most of these apps end up being nothing more than bloatware on the phone.
It did seem like that the focus of the entire show was for the people to realize that Galaxy S IV was a product from Samsung and Android and Google are very much background players. It definitely gives Samsung as a brand a massive push. And by the admission of Director of Marketing of Samsung, Ryan Bidan, this is not totally off the mark, this is what he told CNET.
“We wanted to talk about the Samsung experience,While Android is important, in the context of this conversation, we didn’t feel it was relevant.”
A New OS?
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So could it be that Samsung wants to go the route of Apple with a completely vertically integrated solution where they control the hardware and the software? It sure seems like that.
We all are pretty well aware of interest that Samsung harbors in Tizen. Tizen is an open source Linux based platform just like Android and is driven to the market by companies such as Samsung, Intel and few others. This is exactly what Tizen is:
Tizen is an open source, standards-based software platform supported by leading mobile operators, device manufacturers, and silicon suppliers for multiple device categories such as smartphones, tablets, netbooks, in-vehicle infotainment devices, and smart TVs. Tizen offers an innovative operating system, applications, and a user experience that consumers can take from device to device.
There have been rumours of a Samsung device running Tizen being released sometime later this year in Q3 or Q4. What are the possibilities that if Tizen does take off that Samsung might completely shift the base from Android? However, in the past Samsung has failed miserably as a Samsung company and we saw it did not achieve the sort of success it did with Android than with the likes of Bada an others.
So far the winning combination definitely is Android plus Samsung, and this definitely will be proven once again when the Galaxy S IV sells faster than pancakes. But for how long will this winning combination last? It is anybody’s guess, like they say it is better to wait and watch than make a prediction and be left with an egg on your face, and with tech industry where things change rapidly and nothing is set in stone, we much prefer to go the way of the former than latter.