With the release of the Samsung Galaxy S4 impending, the anticipation is, of course, building. The S4 is said to have a few entirely reworked software components like their ChatOn Messenger and S Voice command system. Of course, as a whole, the phones run off of Google’s Android software. Samsung and Google have a long history of working together to produce one of the world’s most successful mobile operating systems. They have historically been partners going up against the likes of Apple and their in-house iOS operating system. But, there seems to be new potential for a split between the formerly harmonious developers.
History Between Google and Samsung
There’s a basic framework for the current relationship between the two tech giants. Samsung provides the hardware while Google provides the software. When Google needed a platform for their Android software, Samsung took the torch and ran with it. Today, Samsung accounts for over 40% of all Android smartphones and over a quarter of all Android tablets. By contrast, Huawei would be second on this list to Samsung, accounting for only 7% of all Android devices. So, to put it simply, the Android software is more likely to be found on Samsung phones and tablets than it is anywhere else.
So, how has a rift started to appear between these two long-term friends? For the most part, the argument centers on mobile advertising revenue. Of course, Google operates the lion’s share of all mobile advertising, and, up until the recent release of Facebook Home, they always had their search bar located prominently on Android’s homepage. So, Google is raking in the cash off the backs of their hardware developers. Samsung, of course, is the most prominent of all these developers and they receive only about 10% of all mobile ad revenue that Google makes.
App Developers Interaction
For an Android app developer that has brought Android into the limelight, it might be expected for them to receive a little more than 10%. After all, Google makes a great deal of their mobile ad revenue from Samsung devices. Samsung has also seen competitors start to stake more and more of their business on Google’s Android platform. Of course, Samsung is far and again the leader in Android software, but it’s clear that they don’t want that role to be usurped by up and comers. Huawei and HTC are both hardware developers that could be cutting into Samsung’s market share. Google also operates its own hardware subsidiary in Motorola Mobility, which they acquired in 2011.
For users who enjoy Samsung Galaxy phones with the Android OS, this tiff certainly has some ramifications. The Galaxy S4 places less attention on Google Now, Google Play, and Google Maps in favor of Samsung’s in-house components. This might be a sign that Samsung is willing to part ways with Android or, at least, that they are capable of producing in-house apps. While the schism isn’t expected to end with a complete break, Google might have to acquiesce and provide Samsung with more mobile ad revenue. After all, Samsung does have some leverage in this argument as they represent the most successful iteration of the Android OS.
Greg Martin is a journalist from Michigan who covers notable lawsuits versus Fortune 500 companies. He currently follows technology lawsuits involving patent infringement and proprietary information.