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    February 26, 2013

    Samsung’s Android dominance worries Google

    With Samsung not only dominating global smartphone sales, but obliterating any competition it has on Android, we thought it was just a matter of time before this issue arose. Google has become increasingly worried about Samsung‘s dominance in the Android market, not because it sits at the top of the pile, but because almost the entire pile consists of Samsung devices.

    Andy Rubin, the head of Android, congratulated Samsung on its massive success last year, but also warned that Google could find itself in a very difficult position if Samsung should dominate the market outright. Well, it has come true and Google wants to make sure its line of defence is strong.

    You might ponder as to why this would be bad for Google. It comes down to the influence Samsung now wields in the Android marketplace. There is the danger of Samsung becoming so synonymous with Android, that the latter can lose its meaning to the general public. This is much like people calling all kinds of fabric softener “Sta soft” in SA.

    Samsung held 39.6 percent of the global smartphone market in 2012, of which the vast majority were Android devices. There is no other Android vendor that can even remotely compare to that figure. This means that Samsung has such a massive influence over Google and Android that they could, for example start demanding certain things from Google to include in Android and threaten to drop the platform if they don‘t. Or the worst case scenario for Google –  Samsung could use the open source platform and develop its own complete version of the OS, much like what Amazon has done with its Kindle Fire tablets. The Kindle Fire might claim to be an Android device, but very little resemblance remains to Google‘s creation.

    Luckily, it seems, Google saw this coming last year and found a way to hedge this risk. That‘s where the purchase of Motorola Mobility comes in. Google‘s strategy hinges on Motorola becoming a larger player in the Android market (which hasn‘t happened yet). However, the products coming out of the Motorola workshop recently, haven‘t exactly been heralded as a market leader in any way.

    The way to pull some of Samsung‘s massive following would be to seriously innovate within Motorola. Google‘s Nexus devices are brilliant, yes, but they are only recently starting to become relatively mainstream. News broke in December 2012 that Google is working with Motorola and taking its fate in the smartphone market into its own hands, with the so-called “X Phone”. It remains to be seen if this device will offer the market anything Samsung can‘t. All we do know is that we are excited to see the path that Google takes going forward.

    Source: Wall Street Journal

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    • Yeah, dear old Google. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell a symbiotic relationship from a parasitic one, especially with these heavyweights. I doubt Samsung would ever be to Android as Marmite is to dark salty veggie extract spreads (man that sounds yucky), but if Samsung with its large market share does decide to develop it’s own OS, it could take a big bite out of Android’s pie.

      Personally I hope, from the consumer and developer’s side, that Samsung sticks with Android… I’m really not in the mood for yet another platform to choose from, and I’m sure developers really aren’t in the mood to add another platform to code apps for.