Google is worried by Samsung's Android dominance, says WSJ

A new report by the Wall Street Journal has outlined anxiety within Google in regards to Samsung's growing dominance in the Android handset manufacturing field. Google, which licenses Android for free, has been in partnership with Samsung since 2010, when Samsung released the Galaxy S - the first real iPhone competitor to run Android. Since then, Samsung's vast quantity of smartphone shipments has increased Google's lucrative mobile advertising revenue tenfold, but the company is still worried.

If Samsung were to split from Android, it would pull the carpet from under Google's feet. Apple and Samsung take roughly 98% of all revenue from smartphones sold, leaving just 2% to HTC, Sony, Motorola, LG and more. Even more worrying for Google, Samsung could choose to release a custom version of Android - like Amazon did with the Kindle Fire - which runs it's own software and bares little resemblance to Android. If Samsung chose to follow this path, it could also choose to block Google out and decrease their revenue from mobile ads significantly. 

Google does still have Motorola - which it purchased for an eye-watering $12.5 billion last year - to manufacture phones, however, the power Motorola yields is small; Google has openly admitted that the partnership has not yet started bearing fruit, with Google deciding to manufacture their Nexus 7 tablet with ASUS and their Nexus phone with LG. Google is rumoured to be creating an "X phone" which will compete - and, Google hopes, beat - their rivals at Samsung. 

Internally at Google, Andy Rubin, head of Android, has congratulated Samsung on their success, but warned that Google could be left behind. After all, there is more money in making phones and selling them than collecting advertisers money, as Samsung and Apple have proven. 

The Wall Street Journal described the relationship between Google and Samsung as "increasingly complicated", due to Samsung's huge momentum. Last year, Samsung shipped 215.8 million smartphones, most of which used Android; for comparison, Apple shipped 136.8 million iPhones in 2012. Within the Android ecosystem, Samsung accounts for 40% of all phones sold; their closest competitor is Huawei which captured 6.6% of the Android market - in other words, Samsung's lead is phenomenal, and it is worrying Google.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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Samsung has already started to make there move with ICS. Samsung has and plans to continue to add features that are unique to the galaxy S line. There are many features that normal users like built into the lastest version of touch wiz. So I believe that Samsung could at somepoint drop the android plug when talking about there phone OS. Google should just focus on making he android apps the best. Improve google now, Maps, the play store, Etc. Then it wont matter what Samsung calls ther OS. User will keep the google apps around.

As always is the inevitable problem with open source platforms, they wind up super successful when a for-profit corporate entity finds a way to turn them into a commercial product.

Sorry FOSS, it's this, education, and developer tools. That's all you can has. Open source's greatest success is giving developers free work to put on a resume when it comes time to get a real job.

It's easy to see that Samsung is going to try to pull something like Amazon with the Kindle. They already started their own store and to entice developer they're not even taking a cut from sales

As already mentioned, if Samsung would move away from Android they would do so by either releasing their own custom version (no need to switch from Google account, access to all apps etc) or gradually introduce Tizen or anther OS.

But then, why would they? Samsung already struggles with keeping their phones updated after Google releases the source code. Maintaining their own version of an OS would mean serious investments in their software side of things.

Kind of Ironic that Samsung, not Google's own Motorola is dominant. Seems like Google should look at having Samsung as their flagship phone, if not then design some better phones on the Motorola end.

They obtained them fairly recently still! When they obtained Motorola they kept the pipeline for upcoming Motorola products instead of trying to interfere.

The upcoming 'X' phone mentioned in the article is, I believe, the first design in collaboration with their adopted parent, so we're hopefully going to see something game-changing. If not game-changing, I wouldn't be surprised to at least see it capture a much larger market share.

That is Google's problem. They spent $12.5 billon on Motorola and it produces nothing of any value. Samsung, meanwhile, has got a mopolply on Android headset shipments.

You made your own conclusions, I never even mentioned that it will happen overnight or it won't bring alternatives to the table. I just said plain out that if Samsung leaves Android HTC will be next in line to take over the left-over business.

I think business would shift from Samsung very fast. To switch to their own OS, and leave google accounts behind, would involve people losing all of their app collections and settings.

I don't think that is something to be underestimated...Changing to a Lumia 920 from my iPhone 4 was a difficult thing for me to do, knowing that I'd have to obtain everything I wanted again. A lot of people would want to just go to another google android phone where they keep everything.

Bullsh*t. Tizen with Alien Dalvik already runs every Android app - more than twice as fast as Android itself. Watch for Samsung, ZTE, Huawei and possible HTC to all dump Android in 2013-14. RIP.

It'd be nice. At last, Android would die and we'd either return to stupid crapfones or have some actually good OS that could run actually useful programs.

Phouchg said,
It'd be nice. At last, Android would die and we'd either return to stupid crapfones or have some actually good OS that could run actually useful programs.

as long as there is no wp. then its good

Phouchg said,
It'd be nice. At last, Android would die and we'd either return to stupid crapfones or have some actually good OS that could run actually useful programs.

Yea, you are right. Android is a bad OS and the millions. Bummer since there are millions using it....

Sarcasm aside, get a clue. Android OS serves a certain set of people like iOS and WP does. Dont like it, choose something else.

No need to show me the clue, o teacher of the clueless over the internets. I have a clue. Which hereby is: Android is the best even for my set of needs. But it's not enough. How about that clue?

Even if Samsung were to "leave Android behind", it would still take quite a while for Google to feel the implications of that. All of those Samsung Android phone owners would still have those Android powered phones. Whether it's for a few months, several months or years. The money would continue to flow. In the meantime, I doubt they would be sitting on their thumbs. I doubt very much they would cease to work on Nexus devices and or "Phone X" simply because Samsung moved away from Android.

Would it make a difference if Samsung moved away from Android? Absolutely. Would it be "DOOOOOOM!!!!!"...Uh...No.

Feel free to explain how Google = Samsung or vice versa. Google does not rely on Samsung. If anything, at this given moment...Samsung relies very heavily on Android (Google).

There are plenty Android fans who are not Samsung fans. Personally, I like Samsung's devices over any of the others at this time. But ultimately, it's Android I like. Samsung is just the package it comes wrapped in.

As the article says, Samsung does not have to be reliant on Google, they could do as Amazon have done and release a Google free android on their smartphones.

That's true. However, the Nexus 7 pretty much wipes the flower with the Kindle Fire. If you take a look at the Nexus 4 (which I personally consider a flop), you'll see that people want Nexus devices and want Google's Android, directly. Samsung would definitely pull some people with them if this was the route they wanted to take, but it's still nowhere near as dire as this (and the other articles I've ready over the last 2 days pertaining to this) make it sound.

Crimson Rain said,
Can't Samsung release updates for those phones to upgrade them to their custom android?

Pretty much at any time they wanted to.

nekkidtruth said,
That's true. However, the Nexus 7 pretty much wipes the flower with the Kindle Fire. If you take a look at the Nexus 4 (which I personally consider a flop), you'll see that people want Nexus devices and want Google's Android, directly. Samsung would definitely pull some people with them if this was the route they wanted to take, but it's still nowhere near as dire as this (and the other articles I've ready over the last 2 days pertaining to this) make it sound.

You can have "Google's" (lets face it, they didn't even make it, they bought it...) Android without the Google and it's services. It's kind of like having a custom ROM which rips out all of the Google crap. You may not think that is such a big thing but the way Google is making money is through their advertising power in applications, email and pretty much all their other services like maps. If Samsung were to get rid of that stuff then you wouldn't have people FORCED to use a Google Account or pressured into using their mapping, search and media services. The repercussions would be huge, perhaps not immediately, but over time as you said.

There is always one problem with FOSS, you can steal the source code, make something better and make even more money. Google knew this but their OEMs were faithful back when they had little marketshare and depended on Google. Now that they are ahead and no longer require Google's support it would not surprise be one bit if they dumped Google and pushed their own solutions which could/will ultimately lead to more money for the OEM and less money for Google. This is where the concern is- Google have launched Samsung into the market and Samsung is in a position where they can retain market dominance without Google. If they don't have to bend over to them, they want.

Which all makes sense, until you look at the big picture. Here's a few things that need to be considered as well:

- Samsung has fallen extremely short when it comes to phones released without Android on them. (ATIV S as a prime example).
- Most people hate Touchwiz (Which means they'd have to entirely redesign their 'skin').
- Most Android users already have a Google account and don't necessarily care to add another account to the collection (ie. A Samsung-based account).
- Samsung already has Samsung Apps, which is horrible and doesn't really do all that well.

I don't want to sound naive, because I do believe there would be consequences if this were to take place. I just don't believe they will be anywhere near as awful as this article (and others suggest).

All that being said, I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see Tizen make it's debut later this year or early next year. As exciting as it sounds/looks, I'm not even sure there's room in the current market for another OS right now. Android, iOS, WP8 and BB10 are pretty good at defining themselves into their relatively specific markets (Aside from iOS and Android battling it out for the general consumer). Where would Tizen fit?

nekkidtruth said,
Which all makes sense, until you look at the big picture. Here's a few things that need to be considered as well:

- Samsung has fallen extremely short when it comes to phones released without Android on them. (ATIV S as a prime example).
- Most people hate Touchwiz (Which means they'd have to entirely redesign their 'skin').
- Most Android users already have a Google account and don't necessarily care to add another account to the collection (ie. A Samsung-based account).
- Samsung already has Samsung Apps, which is horrible and doesn't really do all that well.

I don't want to sound naive, because I do believe there would be consequences if this were to take place. I just don't believe they will be anywhere near as awful as this article (and others suggest).

All that being said, I certainly wouldn't be surprised to see Tizen make it's debut later this year or early next year. As exciting as it sounds/looks, I'm not even sure there's room in the current market for another OS right now. Android, iOS, WP8 and BB10 are pretty good at defining themselves into their relatively specific markets (Aside from iOS and Android battling it out for the general consumer). Where would Tizen fit?

Yeah man I totally agree. However I wasn't thinking they'd release a new OS but more or less a fork of Android with out Google services. I think the creating another account thing is trivial in the greater scheme of things but I certainly agree that Samsung apps is crap! I've got the S3 and I love it (got my custom ROMs on it and everything ) and while I think its great hardware (not great build quality, definitely not when compared to my 920 and iPhone 5) the software side is definitely lacking (I only have to put up with touchwiz for a couple of hours ). Samsung are a hardware company and so while I don't think we can see an immediate shift to a major homebrew fork I definitely think we may in the not too distant future. Or of course the partnership between Google and Samsung could strengthen and they would continue to rake in the cash!

Lets wait and see! All this new mobile tech is exciting, computing is RAPIDLY evolving!

nekkidtruth said,
Which all makes sense, until you look at the big picture. - - Most people hate Touchwiz (Which means they'd have to entirely redesign their 'skin').
- Most Android users already have a Google account and don't necessarily care to add another account to the collection (ie. A Samsung-based account).
- Samsung already has Samsung Apps, which is horrible and doesn't really do all that well.
Given Android's market share, I'd say most users don't have any idea what TouchWiz or "stock ROM" is. They just use a Galaxy phone. I have seen many people stick to using what shipped with their "Galaxies". (so much for the whole app thing)

One of the few constants I've seen in the tech industry is that open source always forks, no matter how successful. Some devs get bored or greedy or just hate the other guys. The other programmers here know there is very little that we hate more than depending on / porting someone else's code.

The truth is it's even worse for Google than the article makes out. About a year ago Samsung signed a contract with Intel to develop Tizen phones. Samsung took over from where Nokia left off with MeeGo and renamed it Tizen. Samsung has recently registered 3 new designs with the FCC for Tizen phones. This will kill Google. How?

Simple. As an OS, Tizen runs rings around the woefully sloooooooooow Android (written in Java - the OS for kids and slow people). But surely a Tizen phone won't have any apps? Wrong. There are versions of Tizen floating around Asia and Finland that can run Android apps off the shelf. Much faster than Android even. If Samsung (or Huawei or ZTE) switched to Tizen they could cut Google completely out of the picture. They could make phones that run faster than Android or cheaper phones that run as fast as Jelly Bean. or even Kumquat. They could own the app store as well as 100% of the advertising. The opportunity is a gift from yet another massive Google strategic blunder - maybe even bigger than getting fooled into buying the lame Motorola.

But surely Google would sue them? No. Not possible. This scenario is exactly the same as what Google are doing to Sun/Oracle and they've made hundreds of statements in court in California stating that this is perfectly legal. They can't undo that. Boy is Larry Page turning out to be one dumb, dumb, dumb sucker. He makes Mo and Curly look like geniuses.

The business case is just too god to turn down. I fully expect Samsung, Huawei, ZTE and possibly even HTC to dump Android and hitch their wagon to an Android app compliant version of Tizen sometime in the next 6 months. Consumers won't notice any difference - except the phones are faster. This is why Schmidt sold his shares.