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The Samsung Problem [Opinion]

Samsung Logo (GS3)

When Google purchased Android, their goal was to fight Microsoft and topple Windows Mobile’s dominance. Instead, Google has found itself fighting off Apple as companies like Palm (now HP), RIM (now Blackberry), and Microsoft fell by the wayside. Instead of asking for a licensing fee from OEMs, Google decided to make Android free to use. Little did Google know, Apple would make a huge play in the mobile space that would forever change the market. Back in 2008, Samsung was nothing in the mobile space. It wasn’t until 2010 when Samsung released the Galaxy S worldwide that the Korean company began to find success in the market. Flash forward to today and the company claims about 40% of the worldwide smartphone market. In many ways, Samsung is the hero in Android’s war against iOS.

The Wall Street Journal’s Amir Efrati is claiming that Google is becoming increasingly concerned about the possibility of Samsung demanding more money from Google because of Samsung’s unrivaled dominance in the market as an Android OEM. Efrati also speculates that Samsung could use its market share to leverage getting access to the newest version of Android regardless of if it is the Nexus partner, putting other OEMs at a severe disadvantage. While Efrati doesn’t come out and say it, the threat of Samsung leaving Google hangs over his article. If Samsung demands more money and Google refuses, Samsung could fork Android, leaving Google to fend for itself with a myriad of relatively unsuccessful manufacturers. If Google agrees to give Samsung more of a share in revenues from mobile advertising, other OEMs could respond to their favoritism by forking Android or focusing only on Windows Phone.

To preemptively deal with the situation, Google is allegedly working with Android OEMs, especially Motorola, to keep Samsung in check. Efrati’s sources alleged that Rubin heralded Motorola as an insurance policy against a manufacturer like Samsung gaining too much traction in the market. The irony, of course, is that Google likely bought Motorola to ensure that the company wouldn’t use its heavy patent portfolio against other Android manufacturers.

The notion that Google could use Motorola to push back against Samsung seems comical at this point. I do not want to rule out Motorola making a comeback with some fantastic hardware, superior software, and support on all major carriers, but at this point both Motorola and Google have a lot to prove. Motorola has spent the last couple years pumping out Droid RAZR variants while Google has yet to get a Nexus devices on every carrier (much less reliably available on their own store). Should the two companies get their act together, it would be possible for them to fight back against the Korean giant, but they would be the underdog in a very dangerous game.

The reality of the situation is that if Google lost Samsung, Google would face the possibility of becoming the next Blackberry or Windows Phone. Without Samsung, Google would be a distant third in an ever-shrinking mobile market. Google would be forced to rely on Motorola, HTC, HP, LG, Sony, Huawei, ZTE, and others to fight back against Samsung. Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, Blackberry, HP, and others currently make up 70% of the smartphone market. 30% of the market isn’t a small piece, but none of those individual companies have been successful in the mobile space in any meaningful way. HTC has reported one terrible quarter after another, HP purchased webOS only to do nothing with it for two years while it bled talented developers, Sony has essentially no presence in the US phone market, and the other companies have little to no presence in the US thanks to concerns from American politicians about Chinese manufacturers using their Android devices to spy on Americans. Worse yet, the only other theoretical contenders that would be left to join Google to fight Samsung, Apple, and potentially Microsoft would be Nokia and Blackberry, both of which have not been especially successful in the mobile space for the past five years. In this situation, Google would probably be forced to expand the Nexus program (something that has been rumored for several months) to ensure that several OEMs have an edge on Samsung.

Of course, that doomsday situation assumes that Samsung could maintain the same dominance in the mobile space without Google’s services, including Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Play. Samsung could try to turn to Amazon for an app ecosystem and Microsoft for mail, maps, and search, but if they had the gall to leave Google then Samsung may not be quick to jump into bed with two completely separate companies to deal with more of the same negotiations. If Samsung wanted to maintain their dominance in the mobile space without Google, Microsoft, or Amazon, they would be forced to make or expand a separate app market, content store, mapping application and database, all while continuing to be dependent on Google for the base of their operating system.

samsung logo

Because of all those obstacles, Samsung would be much, much more likely to stick it out with Google or turn to Microsoft and Amazon. Microsoft might jump at the possibility of having its services running on a much larger sample of the market at Samsung’s price and Amazon (whose two goals seem to be to make as little money as possible and never announce sales numbers) would probably give Samsung access to their Appstore as long as Samsung used their music and video services. Samsung is undoubtedly talking with both Microsoft and Amazon about these possibilities should they determine that Google is more of a burden than a blessing.

Either of those solutions comes with a huge caveat, however: Samsung’s users have paid into Google Play for apps and content. To encourage users to stick with Samsung devices, Samsung would have to ensure that the majority of apps that their users use were in their/Amazon’s app store and possibly offer refunds for apps that users paid Google for. These issues could be surmounted, but they would be a PR nightmare and Samsung would undoubtedly lose market share in the process.

The crux of the issue centers around whether or not Google and Samsung’s relationship will fall into disrepair. Both companies have a ton of money at stake without each other. Samsung isn’t necessarily in the wrong to ask more of Google, but it’s not like Samsung had done well for itself with its Omnia line of Windows Mobile phones. It wasn’t until Google started giving away Android that Samsung was able to become the monster in mobile that it is today.

Regardless of if you see Google as being stingy towards Samsung or Samsung as ungrateful, the reality of the situation is that Samsung has been working hard at ensuring that they can leave Google if they need to. Samsung has continued to not only change how Android looks and works on their devices, but it has also continued to push its own versions of products and services that compete with Google’s, including S Voice, Samsung Wallet, ChatOn, Media Hub, and Samsung Apps. Google has every right to be concerned about Samsung, but I think Google has more to lose than Samsung does. Google may not owe Samsung anything, but Google cannot afford to lose Samsung just yet. The most likely result of the tension between the two companies is that Google will give Samsung more of a share of its mobile advertising revenue while investing heavily in Motorola and others to lessen Samsung’s dominance.

The irony of the situation is surely not lost on Google’s executives; such a move would be appeasing the war-hero-turned-enemy. Samsung may not be Google’s enemy now, but the threat of Samsung being able to leave Google is a threat that Google needs to be able to respond to. The question is, will Google and its OEMs be able to diminish Samsung’s market share without alienating the company that is making Android succeed?

  • Rickerbilly

    Blah blah blah. That is all I saw

  • http://www.facebook.com/H31Vry5 Heon Jun Park

    Back when Android started HTC was the COMPANY. until Samsung started making Galaxy S when Google started support Samsung more.
    In some sense Google helped Samsung.

  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.t.roach.90 Andrew T Roach

    No reason to be worried about it really. Samsung’s ride has already reached its peak. The newer oem’s like ZTE and Huawei, and other budget smartphone makers are going to snap up most of emerging market in the coming years.

    • Funbob

      No thanks to cheap Chinese junk from a communist country hell bent on destroying our country.
      With ties to the Chinese military and terrorist groups, it’s stupid to buy from Chinese companies.
      I’ve done academic studies of China, and you have no idea how barbaric, cheating, ruthless, backstabbing the Chinese are.

      • Tim

        I’m Chinese, and even I agree with this. China is simply ghetto and evil.

  • Dillon Brown

    I think this whole thing is ridiculous. Let’s take a vote. If samsung forked or ran a different OS i.e dropped all google apps would you still buy a Samsung phone? Upvote for no down vote for yes. I’ll let the results speak for themselves but to me it’s obvious.

    • George

      Dude, there’s an inherent flaw in this poll.

      Anyone, registered or unregistered, can vote up.
      But to downvote, you must be registered.

  • adam king

    I don’t really see the problem with other OEM’s falling out of the picture of Samsung continues to dominate and get more revenue. I would be content with Samsung, Morotola and HTC pushing android devices. These other weaker OEM’s just haven’t made an impact and consumers really would not miss their products.

    In terms of who would lose more, I agree that Google stands to lose much more than Samsung. Like it or not, Samsung has helped in making android a mainstream brand. Yes other OEM’s have helped, but it’s Samsung that has really penetrated the market and made android a valid competitor to IOS. I think we need to stop all of this in-squabbling between android and realize that the real competition is Blackberry and IOS. Stop focusing on Samsung and just let it continue to do what it’s done. Eventually, another OEM will make innovative breakthroughs and balance the market again. HTC’s rise and fall case and point.

  • anthony jones

    i dont see see this happening, and all this says to me is Google needs to come out with amazing Motorola products. Tastes in phones change often. Samsung should enjoy it while their the hot thing now, but that will fade.

    • anthony jones

      and ive still held on to my OGDroid, just like I held on many years to my Motorola StarTac.

  • Alan Paone

    I don’t think Samsung is ever going to leave android. sticking around is win-win for them, they can do their own thing and have Google apps on the devices and they make a decent pile of money selling the damn things.
    Personally, I think. The biggest threat Samsung poses is that their stubborn refusal to innovate is proving to be the only viable strategy. That gives a pretty sad direction for android as a whole and says awful things about the market.

  • Nick

    I cant understand what Samsung has done that any other company in their position wouldn’t do. Google made Android open/free and Samsung has used it and added their own applications to maximize their profits and brand. Yeah they wanted to be the next Apple, who doesnt? Google included. I don’t believe the Motorola purchase was made only for patents. It was also an opportunity for Goog to have complete control software to hardware and collect 100% of profits with a phone release. Problem is how it looks considering Google will now be competing with their own clients – all the other OEMs. I mean come on, we’ve being seeing tidbits of info for months now about the X phone and how it will compete with the other top tier phones out there ex. iPhone, Galaxy.. Job postings by Motorola for X phone project.. The reasoning that Samsung is getting too big is foolish, thats every Android OEMs dream and what Google offered right? I suppose I could be wrong. My thoughts are that Google is using Samsung as an excuse to jump into the market with their own superphone. Im not complaining though Ive been patiently waiting to buy it lol.

  • etg9

    I have an SGSIII and while I like the phone I don’t feel it’s all that much better than the HTC One X. If the One X had a better battery then I would say it’s close to even. I’m on Verizon though so different phones are a non-starter. With the new Moto stuff and HTC getting their act together on all carriers then I think Sammy won’t have such a solid hold on things and maybe we will have some real choices.

  • fartbubbler

    so.many.words.

    • http://twitter.com/misterE33 Mr E

      lol. dont’ read them, nobody else does :)

  • GCurry

    I have Samsung Galaxy Nexus and N10. Generally happy. Wife has OG 10″ Samsung tab. But if Samsung forks Android, or tries to go the Amazon route, they’ve lost this household.

  • Rodeojones000

    Following the headline, the entire article could have simply said, “Their hardware utilizes a physical home button.” Still gets the problem with Samsung point across, but in much fewer words.

  • ConcernedReader

    Another terrible Ron opinion article. I dream of days without Ron posts.

  • Jeremy Martin

    I think the media is hyping up something that does not need hype. Samsung has never hinted at this…Google has never hinted at this. The only report of this is the same report that people keep spewing opinions on and its the WSJ article…which was based upon opinion.

    I personally own a Galaxy Nexus but I’m not a Samsung fan. I am an Android fan…so if Motorola comes out with an awesome Nexus phone I’m back to Motorola.

    My wife owns a Droid Razr…loves the phone. Motorola makes great products..other than the community such as ourselves hating how they are all too happy to lock up the bootloader, the masses by far don’t care about that or anything else such as Ice cream sandwich, Jelly Bean or when Key Lime Pie comes out. All they care about is a nice phone, great reception great battery life, their Google Apps they use daily, and great support. The last part is what was dooming Motorola…the great support. That, historically, has been non existent. Here is hoping Google fixes that now that they own Motorola.

    Back to the topic…this “feud” has been manufactured by the media to get some hype going for some reason. Samsung nor Google want to annihilate each other and have never even hinted at this.

  • kidheated

    Samsung sucks. Out of all the OEM’s they are my least favorite. It also seems like they are eventually going to move away from Android w/ their Biden OS. They are only the top dog because there is nothing else out, at the moment, that is that good. It is a round robin and always has been. Samsung will slip from the top as soon as another company puts forth their next-gen, top-end device. That said, if they want to play this game, let them go be truly on their own (since they burnt their bridges w/ *pple) and power up Motorola as the dominant force in Android. Goog’s might as well, because it’s the only way that they can 100% make sure that everything is the way they want it/should be.

  • Kurtis Tamez

    Maybe I’m confused. This topic starts out about how Android is FREE for Manufacturers, And then goes into how Samsung could start asking Google/Android for “more” money? Is Google now paying the manufacturers?

    • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

      Samsung currently receives money from Google that Google makes fom advertising revenue. For more details, read the article on the WSJ or Tim’s summary that was posted earlier this week. Both were linked to in the article.

      • Kurtis Tamez

        I see. Didn’t click through. Didn’t realize Android was free, but that Google also shared in the Ad Revenues, Why would a Manufacturer use anything other?

        Thanks for the clarification Ron.

  • MikeCiggy

    Just because an ever so popular manufacturer leaves Android does not mean the customers will follow. Yes the Galaxy line is a commercial success but so are the Google services. Do people that have been on Android for years now really want to start over with a new email service, contact back-ups, re-purchase all of their apps. I sure as hell don’t.

  • JoeTi

    The Nexus brand (and the X-phone) are the whip that will keep the Samsungs and other OEMs in line. Until then, Nexus or nothing.

    • BulletTooth_Tony

      Yes. Phones that sell 1 million units each year will keep in line manufacturers that sell tens of millions each year. That makes perfect sense. Keep chasing a higher number, I’ll take my lower number and features well ahead of your number.

      • JoeTi

        That is a good point. However, you are thinking very short term gains. Samsung has been in this game for a LONG time. Consider what Android has done for them including the Nexus line they were a part of (Nexus S, GNex, etc). Look at the Nexus sales numbers as a growth curve and all the marketing that HAS NOT gone into selling that Brand relative to Samsung and how they Market the S line. I think you are underestimating the potential power of the Nexus brand.

  • http://iamandroid.co/profile/rocktoonz Rocktoonz

    I’ll be interested to see what happens with the GS4. If that’s announced and not available on Verizon, will everyone start worrying that Verizon is starting to be in trouble?

    Think about it. Verizon has a long history of screwing up good phones. Horrible update issues, demanding exclusive devices instead of getting phones people want and letting their service sell their version, and constantly raising or changing their rates and plans to better suit their own wallets at the customer’s expense is going to catch up to them eventually.

  • Mordecaidrake

    Personally, despite how great their devices are I wouldn’t switch to Samsung because of TouchWiz. I’m tired of having to root my phone, my Razr MAXX HD does everything I need an more and it’s completely stock. Minus Widgetlocker and Nova Lanucher. I’d rather give my money for apps and entertainment to Google, which is going to have far greater selection than Samsung. Now If Google released the Nexus line on Verizon without Verizon screwing it up, I’d just buy those. So here’s to hoping we get a ‘X Phone’ that doesn’t get verzions crap.

  • kafka7

    I think Samsung needs Google more than Google needs Samsung. There’s hardware out there that I’d rather run Android on, in terms of build quality and industrial design (a Nokia Lumia, for example), but a GS3 with WP8 or some in-house Samsung OS without Google services? Hell no.

  • cancerous_it

    It’s arguable but it took Google from 2009 to late last year with the release of ICS in June 2012 to produce a truly polished OS. I loved Android from day 1 but it wasn’t until ICS that the common folks really started to take notice. Apple hasn’t changed their OS much at all since the debut of the IPhone. Microsoft had to restart their whole Mobile Windows OS from scratch to get to Win8. And I haven’t begun to talk about the number of apps in the respective markets.

    The point of the above being, if Samsung thinks that they can move off Android, roll with a proprietary OS and not miss a beat, they are beyond stupid. Go ahead and leave Samsung. We’ll see how well you’ll do.

  • jeradc

    purchased android? What?

    • Kurtis Tamez

      Android was a different conmpany that Google bought a few years back, don’t believe it was even “Android” at that point.

      http://bit.ly/15Rft8m

  • I_shower_naked

    Google’s services, search, maps, Google Now etc. are outstanding and leverage what Google does best. Plus Google innovates on android and its services at a blistering pace. It would be a massive challenge for Samsung to compete with Google at what Google does best with or without Amazon and Microsoft. Apple has proved with maps just how far ahead of the game Google is in certain area’s, to close these gaps a company would need a tremendous amount of will to succeed.

    Samsung will do no more then leverage there position to get as much as it can out of Google.

  • Bionicman

    wait the whole point for Google is to get AD revenue….so Samsung selling boatloads of Android devices is bad for them how? i get the whole being worried that Samsung may have too much power over Google but they need each other. It would be silly for either company to break up this relationship….or sour it.

    also id like to point out that Samsung makes amazing phones. it may not have kevlar or aluminum casings, but the phones are for the most part bleeding edge and that makes people notice them….well that and all the advertising ;)

  • http://twitter.com/jdrch jdrch

    Good points. That’s why the Motorola X Phone is the single most important Google device since the Droid 1. If it fails, Google stands to have a serious problem on their hands. However, I think both companies still need each other.

    Ironically, maybe Google should ask the advice of a certain OS developer who never made hardware for decades, yet still prospered despite numerous 3rd party add-ons and modifications from OEMs: Microsoft.

  • http://www.hammertechnologies.net/ Chase Johnson

    Samsung isnt the issue, its the other manufacturers that need to step their game up. Also I think the less amount of stuff messing (manufacture’s mask) with vanilla android the better. Also if Samsung was using Windows or homegrown OS I wouldnt use them.

  • JAM

    I use my S3 because it has Android not because it is a Samsung. Ultimately I believe users will stick with the operating system on an alternative device.

    • bakdroid

      Most users are stupid. I reference the usage of the term “Droid” and “Galaxy” for Android.

  • shooter50

    I disagree completely with your theory. First off let me say I love Samsung phones AND Android. If Samsung chose to use another operating system, I would choose another phone manufacturer, period. I’m betting alot of others would. Personally, I think these two giants are wedded to each other. I would have no issue moving to a HTC One or some other phone if Samsung outsmarted themselves and ditched Android. Android is my #1 priority. #2 is the phone manufacturer who at present is Samsung in my opinion. So although Samsung is Korean and not Japanese, its sayonara to Samsung if they drop Android.

    • MotoRulz

      ^THIS^

    • MonkeyWork

      I don’t get the sentiment in your post. I assume you’d never buy Apple or Microsoft because Android is a better product (I agree completely). But what if Samsung revolutionizes mobile OS?

      Who really thought Google would be that guy years ago?

  • cancerous_it

    Samsung understands how quickly market share can change in the mobile space. I think the realize that as quickly as they rose, they could fall just as quickly. Apple has a huge loyal customer base and even they are feeling the heat. Samsung doesn’t have Apple’s innovation or cunning.

    They became the dominant Android carrier because 1. Android f’ing rocks courtesy of Goole and 2. the other OEMs completely sh*t the bed. Moto burned any good will from the OG Droid when the blatantly lied to their once loyal customers (like me) and then released sub-spec’ed phones. HTC was too busy filling the market with their too many bloated Sense phones with batteries the size of peanuts. Sony’s offerings were just bland. LG phones sucked and their support is atrocious. Samsung simply produced the best Android alternative to IOS and they fully reaped the rewards.

    Android OEMs took a major azz kicking and now they’ve learned, well some of them anyone. HTC is only going to release one flagship phone but they haven’t learned to not to much up Android with Sense. If we wanted Flipboard as our main page, we would’ve installed it. LG is hopefully learning that you have to actually support your phones after you release them. Sony is too big not to take seriously. Sony has woken up, hopefully. And Moto, my love/hate with Moto. Now that the imbecile CEO is gone, maybe we can finally see the wonderful fruits of the Google purchase of Moto. Please dear God let the X phone have up to date specs, a minimal non laggy skin (if you must have a skin at all) and for the love of God, an unencrypted, easily unlocked boot loader.

    I’m going all in on the Sony Z, if they are smart enough to bring it to the US or the X phone. Screw Sammy. They need to dropped down a few pegs.

  • bakdroid

    Yea…no. You are not even close to being correct. Sanjay ran Moto into the ground and Google is just now getting into developing devices. There is no way you can sit there and say that Moto has something to prove. Moto has the best hardware bar none. And with Google at the helm it WILL make a comeback. The X-Phone will prove this fact. Samsung has a name and has the money to advertise. They went after the dumb iPhone users that have no clue about anything but if it has the “WiFis” and the “GBs”. I am not denouncing them, they did a great move, but if they left Android they would fold in a matter of years. Without the Play Store or services, they would fall apart and no one is going to want to be with them without GMaps, Gmail, YouTube, etc. As for them trying to leverage Google….yea go ahead and try. Google can buy and sell Sammy’s mobile division. Samsung has always tried to be the Apple of Android. And if they want to create their own system all I have to say is….Don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

    X-Phone!

    • kg215

      When your company was run into the ground, you have A LOT to prove. Even after he left motorola has made mediocre products that have not sold well. Motorola reception and build quality are the best in the industry IMO, but it doesn’t matter when the hardware underneath is mediocre, the screen is crap, and the design is crap. When you’ve been putting out mediocre crap for years, you have a lot to prove. In the past 5 years the only motorola phones worth mentioning are the OG droid and the droid x. They both had top of the line hardware and imo were the best devices available at the time. Besides those 2 it has been crappy or mediocre devices time and time again, build quality can’t save that.

      • bakdroid

        You obviously have no idea what is involved in development of a product. The products you speak of were part of Sanjay’s plans and were in the pipeline prior to him being fired. It would have cost Google more to kill those products then to let them be released.

        And to say that they are mediocre products except for the OG and the X makes you really sound like you have no clue. While there were phones that were not top of the line, some people don’t want bleeding edge, they want inexpensive. But when the first Razr came out, it was running the top of the line hardware for the time and was not mediocre at the time. But no one cared on this site because the GNex was coming out. The Razr still proves that Moto has the tech based on how many problems the GNex tech had/has. The Bionic had its issues with delays and gets a bad wrap for its screen, but if you were looking for a screen to be able to see in sunlight, it was the best out there due to IPS not being out yet.

        The biggest issue with Moto has been their software and support and Google has been rectifying this. Blur has been stripped down to bare bones and, IMO, is better than stock Android. Verizon has been a big player in holding up updates and now that Google has kicked them in the head about the Moto updates, Moto devices should be getting updates as soon as Google/Moto think they are ready and we do not have to deal with Verizon testing them and adding stupid crap we don’t need.

        Moto needs to do what Samsung did. Get rid of exclusives to carriers, release one high end phone per year…..everywhere. Release a few mid tier devices for the budget minded, i.e. Razr M (which is a really nice form factor for a budget device). And then advertise the crap out of their devices, we will see a major turnaround and people will flock to it. X-Phone will show everyone the true potential of Google/Moto.

  • http://twitter.com/Agmarr Kyle

    Personally, I can’t STAND Samsung’s personalizations. After reading this, I kinda wish I hadn’t bought my mom a Samsung tablet for mother’s day. Stupid Woot.com…

  • http://twitter.com/monolithnyc Monolith NYC

    As we’ve seen things can change very quickly in this market. If Motorola/Google release a high end Nexus type device at a low price on all carriers… things could change very quickly

  • http://twitter.com/Ether813_IX Ian Ximinies

    I think Google should be more worried about other OEMs not being to Market their Android Products the same way that Samsung can market Samsung Android Products…i could see a concern from LG or HTC being we can compete with Samsung Marketing machine…screw it lets just do Windows Phone 8, that is more plausible to me than Samsung forking android…heck lg is bought webOS for TVs, one would have thought it would have just been easier to use the google tv method instead.

  • TheWenger

    In general I think people tend to be loyal to Android as an OS more than to any given manufacturer. Lately Samsung’s had kick-ass phones so they’re really popular, but that could easily change if some other OEM steps their game up.

  • http://twitter.com/kjwilk91 Kyle Wilkins

    While Ron doesn’t come out and say it, the greed of Samsung leaving Google hangs over this article.

  • NeedName

    I’ve recently tried several other Samsung products which they solely write the OS for — “smart” bluray player, “smart” HDTV, other phones. . .

    And all I can say is, Samsung lost me as a customer. I won’t touch anything they produce the software for.

    They make pretty good hardware. . . but they can’t write software worth beans.

  • http://twitter.com/kderentz Kristopher Derentz

    If Sammy left Android they have bigger problems then their users apps not working …. People get use to an OS and once learned dont like huge change. If Sammy left their OS would have to blow both Android and IOS away in usability and app selection otherwise the user base will stick with what they know and jump ship on them.

    I personally think Samsung has WAY more to lose then Google does in this situation.

    • Timothy McGovern

      He’s not saying samsung will be leaving android. He’s saying Samsung could get rid of the google apps such as the Play Store, Gmail, Google Maps, etc. and replace them with their own version or use amazons apps store and microsofts maps and search. They would still be using android as their base.

  • http://twitter.com/utahcon Adam Barrett

    Samsung has no real reason to leave Google. The only real requirement to be part of the Nexus line is to have a bloat free phone. That means stock Android. Also you have to push updates in a timely manner (when they are ready). Anyone can do that today. Then apply for Nexus status. At this point in the game I think Google would be more than happy to sign anyone up for Nexus as long as their phone specs and Android version were good. Google would be wise (and well within their realm) to change the license on Android to require pushing changes upstream. That would make sweet features like Samsungs pop-up windows available through the rest of the ecosystem. That creates a stronger brand for ALL Android companies, and better experience for all Android users.

    • http://twitter.com/kjwilk91 Kyle Wilkins

      I think if LG can successfully achieve Nexus status, anyone can

    • Drome

      there is no way that samsung is going to share its proprietary tech with the other OEMs. The skin and exclusive features is what has allowed samsung to out sell HTC, moto and the gang. Having several companies making competing hardware with the same OS would make the phones less differentiated and drive a spec and price war similar to the one that happened with PC oems over the past 20 years.

  • http://twitter.com/Ether813_IX Ian Ximinies

    Look, I am on Verizon, I didnt touch Samsung devices when they started dropping Bing search on them, and i purchase the best hardware that carries Gmail, Google Maps, Play Store, You tube, i think you get the picture. Any day Nokia decides to start selling Android devices or when motorola decides to ship their “X” device, i am sure i will switch there as long as all my google apps are included.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=75200646 Stephen Cox

    I can’t help to think some of the other manufacturers would be in better standing if the carriers would leave them alone and let them put out unlocked, untouched devices on their network. I’m looking at you, Verizon…

  • Finire

    That is very well written. Honestly I was thinking of getting an S4 for my next phone, though I have an HTC Rezound right now. The possibility of Samsung leaving Google though, is keeping me at bay. I like Android, and I like it in it’s pure form. I want to use Google services and products, not some rip off of them. Samsung seems to have the idea that they just want to rip off everyone’s idea, and shove it into a singular device of there own.

    What it comes down to, is that I’ll stay with Google/Android either way, because of what they’ve done with everything. I’d like Samsung to stay with them, but I’d also like to see the use of Google services. I really may wait for the “X” phone from Motorola/Google and hope that they do a really good job of putting it together.

  • Captain_Doug

    Hopefully some sort of balance can be brought back to Android. Samsung is just too big and powerful and Google does need to do something but they need to do it carefully. I for one am hoping for a huge hit in the X-phone and future phones that Google and Motorola put out. Here’s hoping…

  • Spencer

    I don’t see Samsung leaving Google. They would essentially be trying to become Apple. They might be able to do it, because I’m sure only about half of the people with a GS3 right now realize that Google is the company who makes the software for that phone. No doubt that Samsung would lose money before it would start making it again. If this did happen, it wouldn’t be for at least another year, plenty of time for Google to come up with a good strategy.

    Great article.

  • http://twitter.com/BriCo84 Brian Cohen

    Couldn’t even finish this article, seems completely ridiculous to me. There is no way Samsung would fork android. They may be the dominant android manufacturer…but yes, they are a dominant ANDROID manufacturer, meaning, they owe a lot of their success to google. So they are going to what? threaten to fork android, essentially making their devices undesirable. And google should be worried about this why?

    Utterly ridiculous. WSJ is going downhill when it comes to tech articles.

    • Joe

      it’s really not that ridiculous when you look at it from a business sense. they are THE dominant android manufacturer, not just one of them. that gives them leverage to demand more money. they already fork android with Touchwiz, why not take it 1 step further? that’s all they’d really have to do, and people who don’t know better would still buy the phones. you have to remember, the highly educated people in the smartphone world are NOT the majority. they’re probably not even reading this, or other, android sites.

      • MikeCiggy

        Except when the person selling them the phone is like “No, you can not just log into your gmail account and gain access to all of the apps you purchased and everything they have already backed up. But with the HTC and Motorola phone you still have that access.”

        • Joe

          i would assume that would depend on how much the sales rep would be making on each phone. i’m sure money could sway that. also, what about the people that don’t have gmail accounts? and have never purchased any apps (went with free or are new to smartphones)?

    • PhillipCun

      Even though Samsung supports Tizen and Bada? How is this ridiculous?

      • http://twitter.com/Belatukadro Justtyn Hutcheson

        Bada was folded into Tizen 2.0, so Tizen is getting development from Samsung, along with several powerful allies like Intel and Vodafone.

    • MikeCiggy

      Touchwiz is already undesirable

  • Spoken Word™

    Samsung needs Google more than Google needs Samsung. If Samsung stopped suckling from the Android source, another manufacturer would benefit and Android would continue chugging along.

    • New_Guy

      There are multiple manufacturers just sitting back waiting for Sammy to falter. That would be the moment if they ever decided to fork it over.

    • MicroNix

      Anyone that has followed Android for any length of time knows the big players have been trading hands. Motorola put Android on the map. You can argue HTC, but when the OG Droid was released, only then, did Android start taking off. Quite arguably, HTC was huge right around this time as well. Samsung was nowhere. Even Samsung’s first Galaxy S was scoffed at by many. Especially when it came to updates (or lack thereof). Motorola had been killing it with the OG Droid and keeping it up to date almost to the point of it being the very first Nexus.

      What was then even, became uneven, not because of the Samsung name. Sammy just knew how to market their devices (just like a certain fruit company). At that very same time that Sammy was putting out a flagship device on any carrier it could and marketing it, Motorola decided that what people really wanted was a new device in the window every month or so and p*ssed away everything they built themselves up with on the OG Droid. HTC had a few more noteworthy devices and then delivered the Thunderdud. At that moment, they went from a company that could deliver a flagship device to OMG what did I just release.

      Its no secret why Samsung has been so successful with Android. They have one flagship on every carrier and market the hell out of it. When was the last time you saw any effort remotely close to that from Motorola or HTC? When I was in SanFran this summer, you couldn’t go a block toward the wharf without seeing larger than life ads for the GS3 at bus stops and other places along the way. They nailed it and it was a great device to boot after seeing slugs from both Moto and HTC.

      I have faith in Google’s ability to rescue Motorola. They have the cash to market the hell out of it, the brains to execute and I can only hope they do so with ONE flagship across ALL carriers. If they don’t follow that formula, then Ron’s article gets a bump :)

      • 4n1m4L

        Well said

      • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

        +1 :)

      • CapnShiner

        How could you forget about the Bionic? Motorola’s fall from grace started, IMO, after the Droid X because they started making mediocre devices and devices with odd form factors that nobody wanted, plus the locked bootloaders pissed off the ROM community. They announced the Bionic at CES and everyone got excited. It could have saved their asses but they took so ridiculously long to release it that they pissed off their fans and its specs were no longer top of the line. I think that gave Samsung the opening it needed to get out in front of the development cycle.

        • droidify

          Absolutely. The bionic debacle is the reason I now have a samsung. Motorola screwed there most loyal fan base and IMO, they still haven’t recovered.

        • fanboy1974

          Locked bootloaders and slow hardware updates that lagged against the competition were the 2 items that did it for me.

      • Droidzilla

        If you’re talking US, then this is correct. In the US it was the OG Droid that took Android to new heights, but overseas it was the Galaxy S. Both happened pretty close together, though, so the reality is it was Eclair/FroYo that bumped Android into the big game. If it wasn’t the OG Droid, it would have been the Incredible.

        Samsung makes good hardware, but their software is only as good as the underlying OS (some might say worse than). How’d Bada work out for them? If they leave Google, it’ll be a temporary blip until people realise that Samsung phones aren’t as good as Motorola, HTC, LG, Sony, etc. phones (even if he masses don’t realise it’s because Samsung has gone their own way and abandoned true Android with Google services). Anyone who’s used Amazon Appstore after using Play Store knows this.

        • brando56894

          The first Android device that I had, or had even heard of, was the OG Droid. I knew it was a cool device but I had no idea what I was in for when I first got it, I was blown away that it was essentially a handheld Linux computer and that you could install custom versions of Android and various other modifications. When I was contemplating on buying it I just figured it’d be another device like a Blackberry or an iPhone where you could only do so much with it. I loved that phone to death, but the hardware (or at least the RAM) was sub-par and was slowly annoying me. I would have upgraded to the D2 but the whole encrypted bootloader thing made me never want to purchase a Motorola phone again.

          • Droidzilla

            This proves my point. You (and many others) left Motorola when they started to do things their own way instead of the way that made you fall in love with Android in the first place. If Samsung gets too big for their britches, what happened to Motorola will happen to them.

          • brando56894

            “Those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” :D

        • Fattie McDoogles

          That would be what would kill it for Samsung. Not having the Play Store would be brutal. Regular people don’t want to spend time trying to figure out how to get the stuff they paid for in the Play Store from the Amazon store. That’s a hassle and the average consumer doesn’t want to deal with it. People would rather just get a device from HTC or Motorola that will sync all their stuff from the old device and keep going.

      • http://twitter.com/ToysSamurai Toys Samurai

        But I have no faith in Google’s ability to market. Just because they have the cash, doesn’t mean they KNOW how to market. In fact, I found that Google sucks at marketing simply because they don’t believe in it (when in reality, marketing is extremely important.) When you don’t believe something works, you won’t put efforts into it, and if that “something” proves to be a big part of what’s needed to be successful, you are destined to fail.

        Put it this way. The Nexus 7, when it comes out, has everything on its hand to shift the Android tablet market. Even though Samsung is a dominant force in the Android smartphone market, no one has a commanding lead in the Android tablet market. There’s no doubt that the Nexus 7 is selling well, but I found that it does little in bringing out the Nexus brand to the general public — the kind who don’t read sites like this one. On the other hand, the Galaxy Tab brand continues to grow. 2 days ago, I saw a line of people waiting to check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7″ 8Gb in Costco. Man, that thing is a ripoff. $189 for a 8Gb 7″ Android tablet? The Nexus 7″ 16Gb is only $199. But those people won’t know ’cause the Nexus 7 is nowhere to be found, and chances are they don’t even know what a Nexus 7 is because Google does little marketing on traditional media.

        • trolls often

          Lets hope that ”firewall” between Google and Motorola allows them to market it..

    • brando56894

      It would be idiotic for Samsung to ditch Google, they would have full control over everything but they would loose so much in the process and have to start from scratch with the things that they lost, which would take away from the time that went into customizing Android. For a prime example of this type of idiocy, take a look at Apple when they ditched Google Maps and how well that worked out for them. Avid Apple fans ridiculed them for such a dumb decision and it pissed a lot of people off. Google/Android made Samsung the successful (mobile) vendor that they are today and if they get such a big head that they think they don’t need Google they’re going to fall flat on their faces and suffer for it. People love Samsung because of the integration of Google services with Samsung’s modifications to Android, not simply because they’re Samsung.

  • blix247

    Or the WSJ (or whoever) was wrong about Google fearing Samsung, just like they were wrong about Google retail shops.

    Since they are a member of the OHA, Samsung cannot fork Android without *completely* abandoning the official platform. They literally cannot make another Android device, they can’t name it Android, they can’t use the word Android in any of their marketing, and they have to re-educate their customers that all the money they’ve spent acquiring Music, Movies and Android apps won’t transfer to this new OS. They have to tell customers why everything Google is gone from their device. Yeah, thats likely…

    My speculation is that both parties would prefer the relationship be different, but neither party is in a position to do anything about it. Samsung would certainly prefer to have the OS in house, reap all the profits for themselves and deny it from their competitors. Google would like a more healthy ecosystem where all the profits don’t go to one player.

    The most likely course of action is that Samsung will continue to probe around the edges for an alternative (Tizen, etc), but will be unable to truly create one, because the conditions which caused iOS and Android to come to dominance are unique. Other players will take notice of what made them successful, just as Samsung took notice of what made Apple successful. Nobody stays on top forever.

    • Xavier Spruill

      I don’t know how this article or the WSJ article completely leave out the OHA trump card, and yet claim to be informed journalism. If any OHA member does not use android as it is, Google services included, they have no claim to it at all. Basically an all or nothing situation… so leaving Google/android would be a loss inducing/market share shedding uphill battle and completely unappealing to Samsung I’m sure. The galaxy brand does not have the consumer, nor developer loyalty that these doomsday scenarios rely on to come true. I have a Galaxy device because it runs on Android, not because it has Samsung on the back, and I’m sure the overwhelming majority echo my sentiments. The Galaxy brand is in the position it’s in because of android, and android is in the position it’s in because of the galaxy brand. It would be a mistake to desperate them.

      • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

        Samsung could leave the OHA and still use Android. None of their current devices would probably receive updates after that unless Samsung pushed the updates themselves, but future devices could run Android (just without Google services and apps).

        • Xavier Spruill

          Not true at all. OHA members are not allowed to run incompatible versions of Android, i.e. it’s Google’s Android or go get your own OS. No forking of Android by anyone who signed the agreement.

          • http://ronoffringa.wordpress.com Ron Offringa

            Right, but, if Samsung leaves the OHA then they can use Android without Google apps. Anyone can leave the OHA if they want to.

  • http://www.dsaif.com/ Saif

    Samsung will never leave Android. Period.

    It doesn’t make sense. They already get everything they want.

    • zepfloyd

      Ya, and Nokia will never leave Symbian either….
      Companies exist to make money, they never get fufilled, there’s always more. When people say they have a Galaxy and not Android more often than not there is cause for concern. Google is also concerned not about them but everyone else. NO ONE outside of Samsung is making money (relatively). The Android arena is already very lopsided. When Samsung is crushing all the other partners out of near existence what will be left? Samsung is making billions. If Amazon can do a fork on next to no margins Samsung certainly can, and they are basically marching that way now with all the services they are tacking on. An S-OS (ha.) with Touchwhiz with an Amazon app store for compatibility is not out of the realm. I don’t think it would happen, but it could. I’m sure this piece from the WSJ is sensationalized, but Google is definitely watching close. Bring on X phone.

      • bakdroid

        Nokia didn’t leave Symbian, the OS died! They left because if they didn’t they would have been wiped off the face of the earth. Android is not a dying OS….not even close. And as for your Nokia example….how is Windows 8 doing right now?!?

        • zepfloyd

          Don’t over think it. The point is simply don’t be naive enough to say something would never happen . People said the same about Nokia for a decade when they dominated the world.

          • Alan Paone

            The conversation will change by then. Android is showing no signs of dying. Unless the mobile landscape changes dramatically, Samsung won’t leave android. Given Android’s flexibility and speed of development, I don’t know what kind of change it would take to unseat it right now.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dominick-White/642535026 Dominick White

        I still hear more people saying they gave have a DROID phone, even when they don’t even have a phone with Verizon.

        • MikeCiggy

          Agreed, god damn commercials

        • C-Law

          I used to. Not anymore though. All I hear now is galaxy or Apple

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dominick-White/642535026 Dominick White

            I have had a few people here called the s3 a DROID phone, I get a bit tired telling them no its a android phone, DROID is a brand name for a Verizon android phone line.

          • CapnShiner

            I’m tired of that too. It’s really Google’s own fault though. Google has not really marketed Android. They’ve left it up to the manufacturers to market it and the result is that people know the device branding more than the OS brand. For a while, starting with the OG Droid, the only Android phones being marketed heavily enough were the Droid-branded ones from Verizon. HTC kind of half-assed their marketing, IMO, and Samsung didn’t start marketing until the Galaxy brand was born. They all mention Android but they don’t emphasize it. Verizon’s marketing was just that good.

        • zepfloyd
      • usmitcboy

        I see what you’re saying @zepfloyd:disqus but the difference is that Amazon was already making BOATLOADS of money from it’s core services before forking Android. The whole Kindle Fire/ Fire HD concept is similar to the Chrome Pixel: it’s more of an experiment or concept that they’re selling and not a product. Samsung without Android would be a MUCH different company (read: smaller & less profitable). Samsung doesn’t have the resources/reach/imagination to create a Google clone nor would there be a cost benefit to using Amazon for this & Microsoft for that… They’d be piecing together an OS from other sources that aren’t doing so well themselves so if 1 service goes under, Samsung would have nothing to stand on. I believe Google bought Moto so that they’d have a model for other manufactures to follow and also, if all else fails, they’d have a reputable manufacture if they wanted to go the Apple/iOS route.

      • Dillon Brown

        That “galaxy” argument is so misleading. I live in a very iPhone dominated area with few tech knowledgeable people and those without iphones tend to have galaxy phones. They say they have a galaxy because that’s true, the phone is a galaxy. When asked about what kind of phone they say an android phone. Even the iphone owners know there are android phones. Samsung doesn’t have the kind of mind share that apple does to keep people loyal to the brand when the software becomes inferior. Especially without googles services because if samsung forks, and no google services for them. Maps, Gmail, etc. are extremely important to people and shouldn’t be under estimated. Samsung wouldn’t last very long.

        • marcus russell

          I agree with you, people know Brands and OS these days. Android is just as much a brand as Samsung and if think Samsung does’nt know and realize forking Google would be a major problem look at Apple and Google map or Adobe

    • http://www.droid-life.com/ Tim-o-tato

      I think the issue is that Samsung might currently be getting everything they want, but soon, that might change.

  • Phil

    Demand more money…. I don’t get it, Google does not charge a penny for android, why would they be giving even one red cent to a samsung or htc? if I am a company, and I am going “here is an OS for your smartphones, its awesome and free.” why am I paying you to use my stuff?

    • PhoenixPath

      It was badly worded.

      Advertising revenue.

      Google makes money off of the advertising revenue on devices bundled with it’s services. Theoretically, Samsung could choose to go with other services, or demand a piece of that advertising revenue…effectively taking money out of Google’s pocket.

  • Me

    Samsung can lose their dominance as fast as they gained it. It’s just how it works. Look at HTC and the rest.

    Forking Android to a Samsung specific build doesn’t really seem very enticing, at least for me.

    • Captain_Doug

      Not enticing but possible. Tizen is a very possible option.

      • Diablo81588

        Tizen is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

    • http://twitter.com/utahcon Adam Barrett

      Already LG is making a name in the space with the Nexus 4. I fully expect to see Motorola come out of the sidelines in the next year with a renewed line of phones with much better Android support. Don’t count out the rest of the manufacturers. More and more the people (non techy) in my circles are name dropping smaller brands of phones. We are going to see a landscape shift in the mobile industry in the next few years.

      • http://twitter.com/kjwilk91 Kyle Wilkins

        Same boat here. I referred the RAZR MAXX HD to my girlfriend and brother and they do not have any complaints. My brother said he didn’t even consider the MAXX HD until I showed it to him.

        • New_Guy

          I suggested one to a friend because she is always out in the dessert. The MAXX HD’s build quality and battery life fit her life-style perfectly. I truly believe that Google is about to capitalize on this and take it to the next level. The notions in this article should not be an issue after Google I/O.

    • New_Guy

      Also, Sammy does not have the eco system to pull off what Amazon did. They’re original Kindle, Amazon apps, online videos, books, products, Amazon itself overall allowed them to differentiate without people really noticing. They were never very invested in Google services in the first place. Samsung is not in this same position at all. Would be the most terrible business move their mobile division could do to pull this.

      Not going to happen.

      • She_Beast

        Don’t forget Amazon MP3.

        When I do purchase MP3s, it’s either through Amazon MP3 or other sites like BandCamp. I’ve never bought anything from Google Play Music because their prices and sales aren’t as good as Amazon MP3’s, and Amazon MP3’s mobile app and desktop browser streaming is at least as good or better than Google’s Play Music. I only use Google Play Music for streaming my full MP3 library.

    • Ibrick

      The issue with that is that if Samsung does start to fall from grace, as a company they have a million different products all generating profits.
      HTC only makes smartphones.
      Huge disadvantage when it comes to marketing.

    • fanboy1974

      If that was to happen I would go with HTC or prey that the Motorola X corrects years of wrong doing. I bought a Android device because of Android. Next I bought a Note 2 because of hardware. I don’t want some forked version of Android on my phone.

      • NexusPhan69

        Prey as in hunting and killing for food?