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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

According to Nicholas Reichenbach, co-founder and president of Rabbit, there's a reason for the positive turnout. "Samsung's marketshare had a lot to do with the attendance," he said in a phone call. "Whatever Samsung is doing is very attractive to developers."

And what can be more "attractive" to an up-and-coming app developers than sales revenue? As smartphone users, we often scoff at the apps that device manufacturers load on our phones. And we often bristle when we're asked to visit yet another app marketplace, when we already have Google Play. But Reichenbach says one of the key attractions of Samsung Apps is that developers are seeing better monetization through Samsung's mobile products.

"It's always been difficult to monetize [on the Android] platform," he says, "but with Samsung devices, we're starting to see the monetization equal to other platforms." And since Samsung's high unit sales means it has more marketshare, app developers have more chances to make more money. "It's starting to grow—potentially even greater than other platforms that are leading the market," Reichenbach says.

How much disruption makes sense?
With more than 1,300 attendees at this week's conference, it's obvious there are at least a few developers who are interested in building for Samsung's ecosystem. Indeed, Samsung can offer small, independent developers something that Google can't right now: Prominent positioning in an app store that's a lot less crowded than Google Play. So one can see why so many lost souls are interested in joining the Samsung effort.

But where Samsung could really have a winning hand is not in courting small, independent developers, but in striking exclusive deals with big-name app powerhouses. It's already teamed up with triple-A app developers like Twitter and Flipboard, and similar deals could compel you to buy the next Galaxy phone instead of a handset from HTC.

Samsung is clearly forging full-steam ahead in its effort to become more than a device manufacturer, but it needs to figure out how to do so without continually disrupting the current Android marketplace. It may be helping to reduce friction within its own device family, but by branching off into its own ecosystem, it will just make fragmentation worse for Android as a whole.

But maybe that's the point. You can only have one religion—and Samsung wants to be yours.


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