Recently, a report by the Gartner Group made it clear that Samsung is the major player in Android product sales. So much so that the report actually leads with a caption that says, “Samsung Extended Its Lead in the Smartphone Market Widening the Gap with Apple.”
What’s most interesting about that caption, though, is that comparing Apple and Samsung is really like comparing apples and oranges. The two companies do not perform exactly matching functions. Apple makes its devices (smartphones, tablets, etc.) and the iOS that runs them. On the other hand, Samsung makes its devices (same as Apple), but has taken advantage of Google’s Android OS in order for them to operate, and, as a result of the Samsung-Google relationship, Samsung has managed to push the sales of its devices (running Android) to record numbers, worldwide.
Samsung’s Galaxy S turned Samsung into a major Android player almost overnight, and the statistics have not stopped climbing:
PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL ALL ANDROID SHIPMENTS
* Samsung Galaxy S – 20%
* Samsung Galaxy S2 – 40%
* Samsung Galaxy S3 – 49%
Samsung has been putting Samsung devices, with the Android OS, into the hands of hundreds of millions of people. That should be a good thing for Google, right? Well, Google has sort of a dilemma with this phenomena.
Samsung has a number of non-Android OS developments of its own. All of them sitting in a dormant state, but really only as dormant as a lion crouching in wait. One OS of Samsung’s in particular, Tizen, has been sought by many, especially in the open-source community. Many truly await for it to be turned into a full fledged OS for a number of devices.
Wikipedia describes Tizen as such:
Tizen is an operating system for multiple device categories including smartphones, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) devices, smart TVs, and more. Tizen offers a consistent user experience that consumers can take from device to device. Tizen is open source and standards-based software. Its main components are the Linux kernel, the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries (EFL) and the WebKit runtime.
So, the dilemma Google faces is as follows:
Yes, Samsung is practically the best thing that has happened to Google and Android because, prior to the Galaxy S devices, Android was struggling in the mobile device market. A small list of Android articles from the past should make that clear. Since then, Samsung has practically taken over Android over the past few years and made it more than just an iOS competitor, but an iOS competitor that has prevailed against the Apple giant. This fact is made clear by the Gartner report not referring to any other Android device maker, in its caption, as an Apple competitor, except Samsung.
The problem can cascade for Google as such:
I. Samsung can now be said to own about 50% of the Android device market, and that figure is currently growing.
II. The typical smartphone user will gladly stick with manufacturers they know and trust, as long as all their Android apps still work.
III. Theoretically, Samsung has no problem porting Android apps over to Tizen.
IV. Samsung may choose to release Tizen (or any of its other OS, i.e. Bada) at anytime.
So, what does this mean? Samsung has grown to be Google’s most crucially important vendor of all, but many people may instantly leave Google Android behind if Samsung switches to a preferred OS of its own.
Impossible? Well, that’s what many thought of Samsung’s current rise to fame, but, guess what? It’s reality.