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Samsung and Google: A happy partnership?
Google’s CFO, Patrick Pichette, has previously dispelled rumors of a rocky relationship between Google, the owner of the Android operating system (OS), and Samsung, the world’s most successful manufacturer of Android smartphones. However, new reports claim that new tensions have been felt between the two companies due to Samsung’s focus on its own OS, Tizen, which it has used for its Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smart watches.
As discussed in the MarketLine case study, “Wearable technology: The new tech battleground?“, Google is keen to establish Android as the go-to operating system for wearable technology, in turn hoping to capitalize on content sales through its Play Store on future wearable Android devices. However, Samsung has already demonstrated its intention to explore Tizen as its OS of choice for its wearable products. This may be worrying for Google as, although Samsung does license some Android features in Tizen, it represents the start of Samsung’s movement away from its OS and towards its own digital content, which can be accessed through its Samsung Hub and Samsung App Store. In spite of its hardware dominance, digital content is an area where the Korean manufacturer is currently unable to compete with its biggest hardware rival, Apple.
This shift away from Android is not confined to wearables, and Samsung has already announced the Samsung Z, the company’s first smartphone running the Tizen OS, the retail arrival of which is imminent. Nevertheless, wearables have, indeed, been Samsung’s first foray into Tizen-powered technology.
Ironically, the advent of wearable technology – brought on, in part, by Google’s involvement – seems to have sown the seeds of Samsung’s migration away from the Android ecosystem. In practice, it is not likely that Samsung will completely abandon Android for Tizen in the foreseeable future, as it continues to experience a symbiotic relationship with Google. However, if Samsung were able to transfer just a small portion of its smartphone line-up to Tizen, creating its own ecosystem wholly separate of Android, then it could at least enjoy some degree of an Apple-like hardware-content dual revenue stream.
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