Saturday, April 8, 2017

Why Samsung doesn't ditch Android

Samsung's Galaxy S8 is (almost) here. It's a beautiful hardware package, if you ask me. And it runs Android. Google's Android. Why does such a large manufacturer still rely on software made by a different company?


I wonder how Samsung thinks about not having gone the Amazon route by forking Android. If there is one company that could have pulled off a success story doing that, it is Samsung. Now they're tied to Google's Android and making a Samsung version of every Google app doesn't allow them to actually ditch Google's apps.

This is because of the way Google setup the Open Handset Alliance. As a phone maker, you have to be a member to get a Google apps (and Play Store) license. But there are rules, which Ron Amadeo explained in a 2013 article:

"The OHA is a group of companies committed to Android—Google's Android—and members are contractually prohibited from building non-Google approved devices. That's right, joining the OHA requires a company to sign its life away and promise to not build a device that runs a competing Android fork."that runs a competing Android fork."

So there is no way Samsung can fork Android right now, but the company could decide to completely get rid of Android and use its own OS, Tizen, but this would mean that users don't have access to Google services.

Making Samsung versions of Google apps didn't stop people from using them, so now Samsung is trying something else: services. Samsung Pay is the alternative for Android Pay and with the Galaxy S8 reveal we were also introduced to Bixby, Samsung's own virtual assistant. And even a way to use your phone as if it was a PC.


Things like these can offer a more useful or unified experience compared to what Google has to offer and, if successful, they could be the main reason for Samsung not to ditch Android. It would mean a perfect combination of two worlds: people will read their mail in Gmail, but they asked Bixby if they missed anything important.

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