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Forget Apple: Samsung Could Be Google's Next Big Rival 223

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-deck dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "The idea of Samsung as a Google rival isn't unprecedented. For the past several quarters, Samsung has progressively molded Android to its own vision: layered with TouchWiz and sprinkled with all sorts of Samsung-centric apps, the software interface on Samsung devices is deviating rapidly away from the 'stock' Android that runs on other manufacturers' devices. During this year's unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy S4 at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, Samsung executives onstage barely mentioned the word 'Android,' and played up features designed specifically for the device. Establishing its own brand identity by moving away from 'stock' Android has done Samsung a lot of good: its smartphones and tablets not only stand out from the flood of Android devices on the market, but it's given the company an opportunity to position itself as the one true rival to iOS. While other Android manufacturers struggle, Samsung has profited. If Samsung continues to gain strength, it could become a huge issue for Google, which has its own eye on the hardware segment. Although Google purchased Motorola in 2011 for $12.5 billion, it hasn't yet remolded the brand in its own image, claiming that the subsidiary's existing pipeline of products first needs to be flushed into the ecosystem. But that reluctance could be coming to an end: reports suggest that Google will pump $500 million into marketing the Moto X, an upcoming 'hero' smartphone meant to reestablish Motorola's dominance of the Android space. If the Moto X succeeds, and Google decides to push aggressively into the branded hardware space, it could drive Samsung even further away from core Android. Never mind issuing TouchWiz updates until the original Android interface is virtually unrecognizable—with its industry heft, Samsung could potentially boot Google Play from the home-screen and substitute it with an apps-and-content hub of its own design. That would take a lot of work, of course: first, Samsung would need to build a substantial developer ecosystem, and then it would need to score great deals with movie studios and other content providers. But as Amazon and Apple have shown, such things aren't impossible. The only questions are whether (a) Samsung has the will to devote the necessary time and resources to such a project, and (b) if it's willing to transform its symbiotic relationship with Google into an antagonistic one."
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Forget Apple: Samsung Could Be Google's Next Big Rival

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  • this is ridiculous (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I have a Samsung Galaxy S4. I purchased it because it is the industry-leader. I do not use any of the samsung-specific features, and do not have a samsung account. It is a solid android phone, running the latest release, and is compatible with third party keyboards, facebook messenger (I can't get off facebook no matter how hard I try), and also mightytext and google voice. Like any computer, there are instabilities, but I report them, and samsung and at&t collaborate on updates. these instabilities are

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:08AM (#44388645)

      I agree it's redonculous. Why would samsung want to do that? They make money on hardware, they can't make money on search but google can. If google makes money on search, then it doesn't lower samsungs hardware profits. So it's win win. Even apple cant quit samsungs fabs, so samsung will always have a hardware volume advantage over any other maker including moto X.

      Personally, I plan to buy a google nexus not a samsung for precisely the opposite easons given. What I want is a system that if I invest in it, it wil have a path forward. Buying the most stock platform, when it's highly featured, makes a lot more sense to me than buying a flash in the pan setup. Same reason I didn't buy amazons subsidized tablet. For me, my time and effort is worth more than saving $100 on something or having the sexiest screen tweak, only to have it go obsolete or unmaintained in the next gen.

      I often bough apple all though the 90s and 2000s for the same reason. It's just not worth my time to screw around with cheaper shit that has problems I didn't plan on.

      • by dinfinity (2300094) on Friday July 26, 2013 @07:12AM (#44389649)

        I agree it's redonculous. Why would samsung want to do that?

        The title contains the words Apple, Samsung, Google and rival. The summary is a bunch of hypotheticals and the article is non-existent.

        There is not a goddamn thing to see here, Slashdot.

      • by Agent0013 (828350)

        Personally, I plan to buy a google nexus not a samsung for precisely the opposite easons given. What I want is a system that if I invest in it, it wil have a path forward. Buying the most stock platform, when it's highly featured, makes a lot more sense to me than buying a flash in the pan setup. Same reason I didn't buy amazons subsidized tablet. For me, my time and effort is worth more than saving $100 on something or having the sexiest screen tweak, only to have it go obsolete or unmaintained in the next gen.

        I agree with the stock platform. I don't use the touch-wiz or any Samsung software. I do like their hardware though. My Epic has the slide out keyboard and OLED is just awesome. One thing to consider is the companies feelings towards rooting. Samsung seems to be pretty ambivalent about it, almost even allowing it. I am running Cyanogenmod on my phone and I was surprised at the couple of security updates they came out with for the APK key signing problem. I know Samsung would have taken forever to put out a

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:11AM (#44388653)

      When I pee I use the no-touch system.

      • by turp182 (1020263)

        So you're the guy that gets the floor wet by the urinal... (seriously, who is always peeing outside the urinal boundaries???)

    • by _merlin (160982) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:33AM (#44388735) Homepage Journal

      Well I can counter your anecdote with one of my own. I bought my Galaxy S3 because of the Samsung features. I love multi-window, local SyncML over USB or WiFi so my contacts and calendar don't go through the "cloud", Kies Air for accessing phone data through the browser, the Samsung image gallery application, the ability to easily upgrade/downgrade/crossgrade and even load "frankenfirmware" using Odin3, etc. I never sign in to any Google services from my phone - I've made a point of not entering a Google login or password once.

      • by symbolset (646467) * on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:06AM (#44388841) Homepage Journal
        Congratulations. You bought the pinnacle of modern technology and then deliberately crippled it.
        • by _merlin (160982)

          I really don't like Google. Samsung firmware lets me run Android without using Google services. What's your problem?

          • But I went down the China cheap pad route. No need to pay extra for something that'll go obsolete in a year. Hardware and software get upgraded at the same time ;-) If possible, get the model with the latest Android version because firmware support is spotty at best (although this is improving with some manufacturers now offering OTA updates). Or you can check if there's an active Cyanogenmod developer for the model so your tablet will be worth at least one Android revision (e.g. from 4.2 to 4.3).

            Most of th

        • by chihowa (366380)

          The pinnacle of modern technology depends on sharing all of your private affairs with the town gossip? You can use everything cool that Google offers without signing in and enabling creepy stalker mode.

    • by Zontar The Mindless (9002) <plasticfish.info ... m ['gma' in gap]> on Friday July 26, 2013 @03:09AM (#44388857)

      I was sort of with you until I got to this:

      They are also successful because they sell phones with styli which is very important in asian countries where the pen is used to write letters of the alphabet.

      Why the stylus? Is Google Pinyin banned from the S4 or something? Works great on both my S3 and Tab 2 for writing Chinese characters. (They're not letters, BTW.)

      All the Chinese people I know--including my partner--use pinyin input method of some sort for this, not a stylus. The capability has existed for ages on Windows, Android, and Linux (and I would be extremely surprised if MacOSX and iOS didn't provide it also).

      So I'm forced to call bullshit.

      (I wish they'd hurry up with the Linux port for Google Pinyin because the latest updates to SCIM have broken it horribly and now I can only write Chinese using my phone or tablet.)

      • by iserlohn (49556) on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:10AM (#44389083) Homepage

        Not everybody uses Pinyin in greater China. People in Hong Kong and Taiwan for example usually use T9, or some other quick input method based on brush strokes. But for some complicated words you can't find, it's just easier to use the pen. Handwriting recognition is very accurate in Chinese as the number and direction of the brush stroke is matched to a database of words. There is a system on how you write each Chinese character in terms of brush strokes and there is usually only one way to write it properly. It is also a natural way of inputting characters if you haven't had previous exposures to computers, for the elderly, for example. Another reason is that not everybody speaks Mandarin (Pinyin is romanization system for Mandarin). Pinyin in Hong Kong will probably never catch on.

        • by Zontar The Mindless (9002) <plasticfish.info ... m ['gma' in gap]> on Friday July 26, 2013 @07:09AM (#44389633)

          There's pinyin for Cantonese as well. And some folks use bopomofo or whatever it's called, right.

          And yes, I know how Chinese characters are written and the stroke-order rules and so forth, since I am working on achieving HSK Level 1 proficiency currently and know a couple hundred of them.

          In any case, in my trips to HK/Guangzhou and amongst my Chinese friends here, I've never seen anything being used except the keyboard for text input, and my partner, who's a Guangzhou native and Cantonese speaker, tells me use of the stylus is fairly rare and definitely not an everyday thing. She herself has never even owned one, and got through 2 Uni degrees in China just fine without one.

          So I reject the OP's contention that stylus support is a significant factor in adoption, and therefore regard his other assertions as suspect.

      • by St.Creed (853824)

        My wife uses Chinese characters on her phone. We bought her an iPhone specifically for the excellent character recognition. No stylus needed - use your finger to draw a character. It works very well. None of her friends use the very slow pinyin method.

    • by Andrio (2580551)

      I don't think Samsung's software customizations have much--if anything--to do with their success. Samsung is successful because they don't make the mistakes other manufacturers have made, over and over again.

      Motorola? They got married to Verizon to produce Droid phones, and largely ignored the other carriers. Thankfully Google is straightening them out.

      HTC? They've made some pretty good devices, but their marketing has always non-existant, instead leaving that up to the carriers. They only recently started

  • by OhANameWhatName (2688401) on Friday July 26, 2013 @12:44AM (#44388361)
    .. how well platform divergence works. In a few years we could have the choice between a dozen different mobile operating systems! Hellelujah
    • It's the cloud man. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Friday July 26, 2013 @02:27AM (#44388715)

      It's interesting that Google is pulling the same trick Apple did with regard to reducing ports and expansions. For example the new nexus 7 doesn't have HDMI out even though all its major competotrs besides Ipad do. The apple solution is appleTV which, while costing a bit more, is an overall better solution aside from portability. Google just came out with chromecast which also offloads the need for a port onto a wireless device that costs extra. same scheme. Likewise, icloud is apples way of not requiring as much memory in their devices (or power for things like Siri). And google follows the same path with chrome.

      Samsung can't match that. THey can toss in ports but in the long run the cloud model and the wireless model are going to win. Apple got it right and google figured that out too. Samsung is not going be building a cloud of their own on short notice. THeir only hope will be to buy or partner with someone who has a cloud (Nokia or Amazon) if they want to go toe to toe with google.

      • by MrDoh! (71235)
        I get the impression that the nexus devices are deliberately reduced with those sorts of features.
        A) to avoid patents/licensing (which is the SD-Card thing I think B) to keep the cost as low as possible C) to give a reason for their hardware partners to produce something different, at different price points.
        Some people will pay the extra for the sd-card and replaceable batteries. it's good to have that choice
      • iPad can do HDMI as well, it just requires a ridiculously priced adapter. [amazon.com]

  • Good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob@@@hotmail...com> on Friday July 26, 2013 @12:45AM (#44388363) Journal
    That's a great benefit of competition in an open platform. If Samsung's good enough, to usurp Google, then customers of both will benefit.

    MS/Apple style lockin is what's to be feared, not good healthy competition.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      That's a great benefit of competition in an open platform. If Samsung's good enough, to usurp Google, then customers of both will benefit.

      Actually. Even if Samsung isn't good enough, customers will still benefit. Competition, even if it's only remotely fair, is still much better than monopoly.

      The added benefit of competition on an open platform is that customers aren't the only ones to benefit. The faster improvement of the platform improves the shared knowledge and raises the starting point of any future effort to improve.

      Closing platforms should be punished with a "purposefully resisting the technological improvement of humanity" tax.

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Yes and no, because what customers really don't need right now is another under appreciated app store. Or do we really want to go down the road where apps start costing a small fortune because every developer has to fork out $30 to every manufacturer for the privilege of listing their app in yet another store?

    • LMOL yeah because it's not like Telecoms don't lock you in...oh wait....
  • by yellowcord (607995) on Friday July 26, 2013 @12:46AM (#44388367)

    Don't think it's too likely in the near future though. They now have the S4 Play Edition so I'm not sure that Samsung will be ditching andoid any time soon. I think they could make a go at it but without the Play ecosystem they'd basically be back to square one and be back with BlackBerry and Windows Phone for apps.

    • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Friday July 26, 2013 @04:24AM (#44389127)

      Don't think it's too likely in the near future though. They now have the S4 Play Edition so I'm not sure that Samsung will be ditching andoid any time soon. I think they could make a go at it but without the Play ecosystem they'd basically be back to square one and be back with BlackBerry and Windows Phone for apps.

      What? that Samsung will end it's symbiotic relationship with Google and turn it into an antagonistic one by becoming a Google rival? Isn't that what Google did to Apple? They abandoned their symbiotic relationship with Apple and used Eric Schmidt's position as an Apple board member to become a competitor in the Mobile market. Why shouldn't Samsung take that lesson to heart, realise that to a large extent Android's success is the same thing as the success of Samsung products and leverage that position to hijack Android. If they are really are the driving force behind Android profits then they can simply fork Android, they can easily set up their own rival to the Play ecosystem and marginalise who'd be stuck with a fragmented landscape of struggling Android device manufacturers.

  • One other point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by willoughby (1367773) on Friday July 26, 2013 @12:46AM (#44388369)

    I can pop the back of a Galaxy S4, slide in a microSD memory card & replace the battery - all without tools. That's why the Samsung phones have become the default geek Android phones (well, that & they are also easily rooted) even more-so than the latest Nexus devices. With the latest quad-core devices having enough power to run Touch-Wiz seamlessly (from what I've seen in-store, anyway) they are very nice out-of-box, even without root.

    • Re:One other point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pherthyl (445706) on Friday July 26, 2013 @12:49AM (#44388381)

      >> With the latest quad-core devices having enough power to run Touch-Wiz seamlessly

      You know your software is a bloated piece of shit when...

      • Point taken, & I agree. If it was mine, I'd rom it to Cyanogenmod. But my point was that... well I think you know my point. Anyway... good shot!

      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Not bloated just poorly written. It doesn't really have many features either useful or useless that aren't present in any other interface.

        I don't think the Quad core is what make Touch-Wiz finally run smoothly. I think they just finally got it running somewhat better. Remember this is a company who rolled their own file system for the original Samsung Galaxy S which was so slow that Android often thought Apps which were writing to the disk were locked up and offered to force close them.

        • by Rockoon (1252108)

          Not bloated just poorly written.

          Well that depends on whose point of view, doesnt it?

          I see a trend where 'doing the same thing' is a lot slower than it used to be in the desktop world, but the meaning of 'the same thing' is based on external appearances. When you look under the hood there is a lot more abstraction than their used to be, but thats not done arbitrarily. For instance, the rise of dynamic XML-based configuration, data, and scripting formats is a long term cost saving measure that really murders performance. Poorly written w

        • by rwise2112 (648849)

          I don't think the Quad core is what make Touch-Wiz finally run smoothly

          It definitely isn't. I've got touchwiz (custom ROM) running on an underclocked dual core phone, and it's silky smooth.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        It runs fine on my old Galaxy S, it's not bloated. What 4 cores are useful for is multitasking. My GS3 doesn't slow down when I'm installing or updating apps in the background. I can have lots of widgets without any noticeable performance loss. Everything is snappy and immediate.

    • With the latest quad-core devices having enough power to run Touch-Wiz seamlessly (from what I've seen in-store, anyway) they are very nice out-of-box, even without root.

      If your phone needs a quad core CPU . . . .WTF?

      • by Zelos (1050172)

        And when did core count replace MHz as the standard marketing-speak meaningless processor comparison?

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday July 26, 2013 @12:49AM (#44388379)

    Samsung is doing a better job of improving Android than Google is. Even though Google shipped hardware with BTLE, Samsung was the first company to offer libraries that actually let you use BTLE with Android!

    I think at some point soon Samsung will take over where Android is heading, or just veer off with it's own version of Android entirely. And I'm not sure Android will be the worse for it.

    I've also admired the custom work Amazon has done with Android. They had multi-user on the Fire before Google announced support for it.

    • by tuppe666 (904118) on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:28AM (#44388499)

      Samsung is doing a better job of improving Android than Google is.

      Except its interesting to note that Samsung have started offering Google Play Edition Phone due to demand for it. HTC has also a Google Play edition.

      Where are the Samsungs compelling first party Apps? A quick search on Google Play https://play.google.com/store/search?q=samsung&c=apps [google.com] shows a couple of nice Applications to use with your Samsung smart tv and nothing else. Google Inc is a different story https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Google+Inc [google.com].

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Most of Samsung's apps are only available through their own app store that comes with their phones. Naturally they have no interest in offering them on other phones via Play, otherwise they wouldn't be exclusive any more.

        Having said that I don't use any of them except for S Beam. I'm basically agreeing with your point, just saying that your comparison is flawed and doesn't necessarily reflect the popularity of Samsung apps.

    • Even though Google shipped hardware with BTLE, Samsung was the first company to offer libraries that actually let you use BTLE with Android!

      And you know the fucked up thing about all of that? Linux has supported BTLE since pretty much its inception. On any standard Linux box you can open up a socket to a BTLE device in about 4 lines of code, most of which is identical to standard socket code.

      That said, the BlueZ userland is useless. Fortunately you don't have to use it.

  • Wait! (Score:5, Funny)

    by multiben (1916126) on Friday July 26, 2013 @12:55AM (#44388405)
    Let me get some popcorn. This is going to be a good debate with lots of well rounded and rational arguments.
  • Look at the Samsung tablets, 7 inch tablets are 1024 x 600 pixel, larger tablets are 1280 x 800. Serious, a 10 inch tablet with 1280 x 800. No, Samsung is not competitive at all today.

    Strangle the Google Nexus 10 is 2560 x 1600 and its made by Samsung.
  • by Intropy (2009018) on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:16AM (#44388469)
    Samsung competes with Motorola, a side business of Android, one of Google's side businesses. Google has far bigger rivals in Microsoft's Bing and Facebook. Samsung sells a lot of phones, which is just what Google wants. It may be a version tarted up with a bunch of crapware, but it's still Android, and it's still funneling people into Google's web suite.
  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:19AM (#44388473)

    Unless Samsung become an advertising company, Google has nothing to fear from Samsung becoming completely independent from google. Googles main rivals is Facebook and maybe Amazon and that is not going to change any time soon.

    In fact maybe slightly off topic its interesting to note that Google Chromecast is a dirt-cheap wireless video dongle that streams Netflix a company I thought of as direct competitive with Google Play

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Unless Samsung become an advertising company, Google has nothing to fear from Samsung becoming completely independent from google.

      That's short sighted. A company should always fear when a hundred million potential customers are no longer funnelled through Google services. If they split from the Google Play store and partnered with a different search engine / data provider then I believe Google would really take notice.

      • That's short sighted. A company should always fear when a hundred million potential customers are no longer funnelled through Google services.

        Except Microsoft Scream Antitrust when Google does not put applications on their dead platform, and Apples top Applications are Google Maps+Google Youtube (they also pocket and alledged $1 Billion for having Google as default search. Android may be a platform...but google have created a platform within a platform with some incredible first party applications.

        I am not saying Google should not be aware of Samsungs dominance in Android phones, but they certainly shouldn't fear them...that would be weird, but G

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      Chromecasts main use case is with androids.

      they should have just called it AndroidCast or AC-plug for short.

    • Google may have nothing to fear from Samsung, but Samsung probably isn't happy with having to compete with their OS vendor for hardware sales (Motorola Mobility). Google wins either way - it's a set of eyes looking at Google advertising. Samsung only gets paid if the device the eyes are looking at says "Samsung" on the bezel.

      Windows PC manufacturers almost had the same problem from Microsoft with Surface, except that Microsoft's offering was (is) so botched from the beginning that it was only an issue unt

  • by otuz (85014)

    I wouldn't count out the possibility of Samsung's Android diverging from the other Android. That'd leave the rest with whatever Google releases and Samsung providing their own, separate stuff and exclusive third-party apps.

  • Samsung has a search engine?

    Yes I know they have an App Store , I don't use it (for my Galaxy Tab 2) or the Google one - I use Amazon since I already have an account there

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:47AM (#44388569)

    http://www.androidcentral.com/google-play-edition-htc-one-galaxy-s4 [androidcentral.com] Its interesting that the article points out how Samsung is moving away from Stock Android, but fails to point out that they are offering stock android as an option, because people desire just that, and they are not the only company doing so.

    • by zyzko (6739)

      It is still Samsung who is providing the updates. Sure, you can unlock the phone more easily and put Cyanogenmod on it, but if you want "supported" OS it is still yet to be seen if Samsung updates the Play Edition or not. But choice is good, from reading reviews; would I buy an "Play edition S4" - probably not (battery life is actually worse, getting rid of TouchWiz doesn't give any real peformance boost, extra camera goodies are gone), and when the manufacturer version reaches it's end-of-life and you have

  • by nullchar (446050) on Friday July 26, 2013 @01:48AM (#44388571)

    Why would Samsung want to create it's own appstore when it can leverage Google's to sell more devices?

    • They already have [wikipedia.org]. My S4 came with both Google Play and Samsung Apps. Samsung Apps didn't seem to recognise that I already had some apps installed via Google Play and offered to install them again.
  • that Samsung will take it's OS to a place where it will not be mistaken for Android. I like Samsung in that they don't always get it right the first time, but they do try hard. And I've had little gems of products such as the 32GB media player yp-p3 media player which was utterly brillant in every aspect. Superior playback, great support of various audio and video codecs and serious next level audio playback features truly designed for serious musicians.
  • Its never gets mentioned but Google get about $700m a year in tax deductions from future profits each year through 2019. It got a further set-top box business to Arris Group for $2.35bn and offloaded Motorola Home getting a 15.7 per cent or so stake in broadband technology firm Arris plus $2.05bn in cash. Some estimates put eh cost to Cost Google as low as $1.5 Billion http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/12/22/did-motorola-mobility-only-cost-google-1-5-billion/ [forbes.com] and it got Motorola's 12.5k issued pa

  • Yeah. Whatever. I'm fine with all the changes that Samsung does to stock Android. It's open source and everything.

    But don't send users over to the Google user forums if that Samsung calendar screws up.

    Way too many users there along the lines of "I have a samsung Android phone, so Google must support is because Android is Google, right?"

  • In order to be a Google competitor you have to differentiate away from it.
    In my opinion TouchWiz and a few Samsung online services atop of Andoid are not enough.
    Google controls the Android ecosystem.
    Making real hardware also it is not, partly because Google is expected to deliver some in the near future.
    Different/better hardware and different OS (like FirefoxOS) with different GUI could help. Let's see what happens.
  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday July 26, 2013 @06:49AM (#44389561)
    The premise of the article is completely wrong. Apple isn't Google's rival at all. Apple sells devices to end users, Google sells end users to advertisers.

    What will happen however is that Apple will do more and more to upset Google's business, just as Google has been working hard to upset Apple's and Microsoft's business. The first step is Apple's maps, which meant that Apple isn't paying anymore for licensing maps from Google, and Apple is destroying Google ad revenue (Apple maps comes without adverts). iWork in the cloud is another step. Apple switching to Bing is another one.
    • You mean iWork's Syncing between computers & iOS versions/devices? Yeah, it may work for home users but not for businesses. I learned this the hardway. The iOS versions don't have all the templates compared to the dektops and the ability to share and edit bewteen multiple people doesn't work unless you are all on the same iTunes account. Unfortunately they don't really offer a small business edition of iCloud. I wish they did.

      We've ended up with SkyDrive & Office365. It's not without it's own

  • Oh, joy. Yet another in a never-ending series of "this phone is the HOT THING" tech porn. In two years, it will be somebody else.

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