Samsung vs Google: A New War in Mobile?
It appears that the long standing marriage between Samsung and Google may be coming to an end. According to Forbes, the Galaxy line creators will allow its users to download a beta version of Nokia Here Maps in October 2014, when the rounded Samsung Galaxy Gear S hits store shelves, and this might be the beginning of the end for Google’s OS on Samsung devices.
Samsung is pushing hard to replace Android with Tizen, their own, Linux-based operating system, which is as much Google-free as only possible. The adoption of Here Maps is the cherry on top of this rather turbulent relationship. It’s obvious that the whole story between the two companies is about money. Google is pushing OEMs to use its own sets of instructions regarding applications, and its really hard to imagine a situation where a Samsung, Sony, or any other phone is sold without Gmail, Chrome, or Hangouts present. To access Google Services, OEMs must create their own firmware with Google’s influence. The position of Google Search, Gmail, Hangouts is fixed, so companies like Samsung can’t move them. What hurts Samsung the most is not being able to put on their own search engine, ads, and other commercial software–and we know how much OEMs love bloatware.
A few weeks ago, Amazon released their very first smartphone, the Fire Phone. FireOS is nothing more than a skinned Android 4.0.3 without Google services. AOSP is a great thing and we all know how many things can be done with its source code. Good things. The majority of ROMs we see here on XDA are built from source, and some corporations have decided to do the same thing. Google may be a victim of their own strategy, but to be honest, it will never happen. Google is simply too big, too powerful, too greedy, and has the best managers in the world to fall into oblivion and leave the field for other companies.
This leads us to another question: What will happen with Samsung and other OEMs that try to release themselves from Mountain View’s clutches? An answer seems to be interesting. CNN reported that Xiaomi overtook the Samsung’s position in China, the biggest mobile market in the world. This fact may lead to conclusion that Samsung is slowly losing its position as a mobile world leader. We can already see devices from OEMs like Oppo, OnePlus, and other Asian OEMs that play a fair game (*knock, knock Mediatek…*) and find many thousands of buyers. It’s only a matter of time to find these devices in carrier deals–not just in North America, but also other continents. Samsung might be forced to reduce the price of their devices or simply look for another sector of the market to make big money. Leaving Android to Tizen is a reflection of the bad situation the OEM is currently in.
Tizen is a good OS for smartwatches, maybe even better than Android Wear, because it doesn’t require so much energy. Samsung has been working hard to push the Samsung Z, the first Tizen-based phone, to the Russian market. The company didn’t manage to make it yet and we are seeing pretty much the same Bada OS story in new guise. Tizen is much more user friendly than Bada, but this OS is not a threat to Android in any kind. Android will remain as a major force in mobile ecosystem for a long time, because Google will do everything to keep their OS on top.
HTC is having the same problem, as they decided to focus only on premium devices by abandoning the low-end device market. This could also be considered a mistake, because despite their lower profit margin, cheap devices can be sold by the millions. Look what Sony did with Xperia X8 or LG with their L3 models. Samsung is putting too much attention on premium devices, while the Asian market is getting some cheaper alternatives from rising competitors.
It remains unknown whether the decision of pushing the Nokia Maps to Android is a good or a bad move. Google may feel threatened and exclude Samsung from its other programs. But overall, this is simply a shame, because the Samsung Galaxy Nexus was a decent device. The upcoming months should be very interesting and provide us lots of topics to discuss.
What do you think about Samsung and Google’s growing relationship tension? Will they remain pals after all, or will their paths never again cross? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.