There are lots of rants about Android and how it’s great/awful – this isn’t one of those. This is about Samsung and what they’re doing and why this is actually a big deal for Android. I had read many articles about the death of Android and today there’s been a confirmation from Samsung in the form of Tizen. Let’s get to it.
There are only two companies making money off of Android – Samsung and Amazon. If you’ll recall, 95% of the handset profit last quarter were held by just Apple (80%) and Samsung. Of course, the only other Android manufacturer making money is Amazon and as we know, they’re using their own version of the OS and their own marketplace. So let’s focus on Samsung for a minute. As Brian S Hall had noted, from a carrier perspective, all of the profit resides with the iPhone and it still leads to companies like Sprint extending themselves to try to get in the game. And Samsung does a great job of marketing Samsung and not Android with their commercials talking about Samsung devices and not even using the word Android or the Android logo. As he states “Nowhere can I find a mention of Android. Not Android the OS, not the brand, not the cute little robot icon. Nor the Android Marketplace/Google Play. It’s all about Samsung, the Samsung device and the uniqueness of the Samsung overlay.” It’s true and this isn’t where it ends. Remember when Google renamed the Android Market and now call it Google Play? Even they’re moving away from the name Android. Charlie Kindel has suggested that the Play brand is Google’s new name and the use of the name Android by Google is going out. Why? Too much fragmentation so they want to create a new name – one which they control.
What we have is Tizen, the operating system in development by Samsung and Intel. Yes, Samsung. And it can run apps written for Badu and Android..uhm Google Play. Assuming that there is Android app compatibility, what you get is a Samsung OS that is getting the benefit of a few hundred thousand apps but it’s not Google’s operating system. In fact, this is beyond fragmentation. This would mean that Samsung can use custom maps, email, etc and Google gets no benefit from this at all. Going forward, Google and Android would be out of the picture and all of the work Google did to woo developers would be to the benefit of Samsung who will push their proprietary OS and be just like Apple – in control of hardware and software and reaping in profits.
It’s been said that people don’t care what the OS is on their device. There’s some truth to that. Samsung is a brand and if it’s running Android apps there will be a lot of users that don’t even get what this means and how it all fits together. All they know is the new Samsung phone is really well made and it’s got hundreds of thousands of apps. And that puts Samsung into the driver’s seat and puts a big wet blanket on the whole Android thing.
Is Android dying tomorrow? Come on, not even close. But I’ll say this – I didn’t see Tizen with backwards compatibility being such a big deal until so many people with so much insight put it all together and then I saw the OS running those apps. And while this is happening Amazon took the work of Google to date and is going to grow their own OS with their on market and own apps and try to keep the tablet market share for themselves. Meanwhile Google is looking for a mulligan of their own.
This is a game changer and this may be how the mighty falls (just like Palm, Blackberry and Nokia/Symbian did in the past).