By Vamien McKalin email: email@example.com | Mar 13, 2013 09:38 AM EDT
The former underdog operating system, Android, is now sitting atop the mobile world as the most popular smartphone OS. Who would have thought a few years ago that iOS would play second fiddle to Android? Probably no one, but that's the nature of an always changing, competitive environment.
It is safe to say that much of Android's success came from Samsung, the only OEM that reaps benefits year after year. Before Samsung took Android by storm, HTC was doing a good job helping the platform push back against Apple and the now dead Symbian, but everything changed after Samsung launched the first Galaxy S back in 2010.
At the time, the Galaxy S was the most popular Android handset, ushering in Samsung's dominance of the smartphone market, which also helped to propel Android to the top of the food chain. Sales of the Galaxy S was impressive, not iPhone impressive, but 24 million units sold impressive.
A year later, Samsung, riding on the success of the Galaxy S, launched the Galaxy S2, the device that made Samsung a household name when it comes to smartphones. It was also the first Android smartphone to really challenge the iPhone in ways Apple never expected. It didn't beat the iPhone in sales, but it captured the hearts and minds of mobile users, the first step to dethrone the king of the hill.
The following year, the Galaxy S3 was born, a bit disappointing compared to the Galaxy S2 but it was enough to achieve 40 million units sold by January 2013. And Samsung's success does not come from the high end of the spectrum alone; the Korean giant has a slew of mid- to low-end Android devices that helped the company dethrone Nokia and become the leading mobile phone manufacturer.
In 2012, Samsung shipped 212 million Android devices; compare that to second place HTC with its 32 million devices shipped to have an idea of how powerful Samsung has become. In a situation like this, Google is relying more on Samsung than the other way around, and you can bet the big G doesn't feel too comfortable with that.
Recent reports claimed Google feels threatened by Samsung; the company believes Samsung has gotten so big that it may soon require a larger share of the advertisement profit made from Android. This is clearly the beginning of a relationship going sour, as two bulls can't live in the same cage.
On the other hand, Samsung views Google as a threat to its core business as well. When Google bought Motorola Mobility, many assumed the company did so for patents, but former Google CEO made a statement that proved otherwise.
"We did it for more than just patents. We actually believe that the Motorola team has some amazing products coming....We're excited to have the product line, to use the Motorola brand, the product architecture, the engineers. These guys invested the RAZR. We know them well because they're Google Apps users....[We like] having at least one area where we can do integrated hardware and software," says Google Chairman Eric Schmidt.
It is clear what Google plans to do with Motorola, which means Samsung would have no choice but to cut its reliance on Android to secure its future.
Samsung began this journey with its Bada OS, things didn't work out as planned but all is not lost. After Nokia ditched Meego and Intel for Windows Phone, Samsung teamed up with Intel to bring forth Tizen OS, a combination of Bada, Meego, and LiMo. The first Samsung-branded Tizen OS phone is scheduled for release in 2013, however, it is not yet known how powerful the device will be or which features one should expect from the OS. One thing is for certain: the UI should look similar to TouchWiz, which should make it easier for those coming from a Galaxy device to find Tizen OS just as easy to navigate.
If all goes well for Samsung, the company could drop Android altogether. Now that everyone knows Samsung as smartphone manufacturer, the largest one at that, it would be a wise decision for Samsung to eliminate the intermediary and go its own way.
Samsung would likely do this in phases. The more success it has with selling Tizen-based devices, the less it would focus on Android until it reaches a point where selling Android devices is no longer a huge aspect of making a profit. If Google should fail by this time to replace Samsung with an OEM that is capable of selling 200+ million Android devices yearly, Android would definitely lose its crown.
Not to mention, Samsung would most likely copy the hell out of Android to make the experience similar to those who might want to try Tizen.
All in all, Android's massive numbers might say success, but behind the scenes, Google is not happy and Samsung is plotting. If all goes the way as stated in this article, Samsung could very be the right company to bring Android to its knees.
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