Google and Samsung: The Light Bulb Clicks On

February 26, 2013

I live in rural Kentucky. I am semi retired, and I don’t fiddle with gadgets like Google Glass which seems like a sure fire way to get hit by a mule drawn cart here in Harrod’s Creek. I noted in January 2013 that the poobahs monitoring Google and its various antics seemed to be happy with Samsung’s surge in mobile gizmos. You can find “Android Analysis Misses a Consideration” in my archive.

Imagine my surprise when I saw “Samsung Sparks Anxiety at Google.” My hunch is that there will be even more lip flapping on this topic when one basic fact is processed: Samsung is not Google’s pal. Samsung, with its blue chip consultants and Silicon Valley pretentions, wants to get as much money as possible from mobile devices.

Google has created its own problems with Samsung. First, it tossed out a good enough open source mobile operating system called Android. Every Chinese clone phone I have examined runs some version of Android. More importantly, Amazon showed the world that it is possible to just take Android and do one’s own thing. Samsung has not be indifferent to these Chinese and Bezos tutorials. Who needs Google’s official Android? Good question.

Second, Google in a crazy weekend bought the Motorola thing. Now there have been many Wall Street wizards who interpreted Google’s action as one more example of Google’s business acumen. My view is that Google stuck a needle in the eye of hardware outfits. How can a company making a “free” operating system and selling ads ensure a level playing field for other mobile manufacturers. Microsoft is trying this hardware thing with Surface. How has that play worked out at Hewlett Packard? How will Google’s Motorola play work out for the Google Glass crowd?

Here’s the passage I found interesting:

Google executives worry that Samsung has become so big—the South Korean company sells about 40% of the gadgets that use Google’s Android software—that it could flex its muscle to renegotiate their arrangement and eat into Google’s lucrative mobile-ad business, people familiar with the matter said.

“So big.” That’s an understatement.

Now what’s Google going to do about this situation? More controlled chaos? I am not sure that will work against the Samsung method. Even Apple is finding Samsung sort of an annoyance. What happens if Samsung goes its own way, showing a digital backside to the savvy Americans?

My hunch is that Samsung will keep on selling gizmos, making chips, and moving aggressively to exploit those who figure that Samsung operates like our Harrod’s Creek farmers’ market. I think Samsung is much, much more. Getting hit by a mule is less risky than tangling with a chaebol which rhymes with mule.

Stephen E Arnold, February 26, 2013

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