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How Samsung will convert you to its mobile app theology

Florence Ion | Nov. 1, 2013
Samsung is serious about building its own full-fledged app ecosystem, a marketplace it wants you to visit before you drop into Google Play

If developers take advantage of the SDKs, it means you'll find more features and apps for your Samsung devices—along with more incentive for you, the consumer, to stick with Samsung hardware. And it's all a blueprint for ecosystem propagation, where software boosts hardware sales, and hardware sales give life to more software downloads. Connect all the dots, and it begins to seem amazing that Samsung is only holding its first developer's conference in 2013.

A leg up on Google with the little things
To help show would-be converts all the benefits of playing on Team Samsung, the company has been busy making native apps of its own. And some of them are ahead  of native Android features, at least in terms of introducing new tricks to the mobile game.

Take Samsung's ChatON messaging applications, which let users chat with one another across all mobile and desktop platforms, send group messages, and chat in other languages with an auto-translate function. While Google has added features like SMS messaging to its Hangouts app, Android is still behind in features when compared to iOS's iMessage, and Hangouts is only usable between the web and Android devices.

Google Wallet must also play catch-up to match Samsung's Wallet 2.0, which borrows much of its aesthetic and functionality from Apple's Passbook. Samsung's mobile payments app was released earlier this year on the Google Play store with features like the ability to store loyalty and gift cards (which Google just recently took out of its Wallet app). Samsung's wallet app also enables geo-fencing for coupons to pop up when you're near a store. Samsung's app is also available to users overseas, while Google's services are still limited to the United States, and only from specific carriers, like Sprint and US Cellular (which aren't a part of the Isis mobile payment alliance formed by AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile).

While Samsung's in-house app development team may not match Google's in size, it can still get developers with great ideas to work on features that Google doesn't offer. Case in point: Samsung has partnered with Rabbit, an online video platform that lets you not only video chat with friends, but also watch video with them on external services like Hulu--all in real-time from your computer and (in due time) mobile devices. The upshot is that Rabbit will be featured front-and-center on Samsung hardware, and its neat features might make you consider it over Google's own video-chat services on Android. Rabbit also trumps Google Hangouts in group conversations by allowing up to 20 people to chat in a room.

And from ecosystem success flows... money
At the beginning of his Monday keynote, Gregory Lee, President of Samsung Telecommunications of America, was excited. "We never expected a big crowd," he told the audience. "We expected a small one."


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