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The fuss over Samsung's Magazine UX is all about fragmentation

Matt Hamblen | Feb. 5, 2014
New Pro tablets will run customisable user interface that users can't remove -- to Google's annoyance.

But Narcotta quickly added: "I can't imagine Google was pleased with what they saw on Samsung's tablets at CES, given that one of the major knocks on Android is its fragmentation."

Narcotta said Magazine UX "is flashy and looks pretty" but also does represent "a departure from Google's vision for Android."

Google could not be reached to comment.

While the Magazine UX is a real, tangible thing, its appearance in the latest Samsung tablets is also highly symbolic. As such, it is a remnant of a Samsung that has taken many steps to show its products are different from either pure Android or other Android tablets on the market. Earlier innovations in that vein include Touchwiz, the Samsung UI that still runs atop of stock Android and is expected to continue for a long time. Samsung also replaced the Google Chrome browser with Samsung's default Internet browser and implemented Samsung ChatOn instead of Google Hangouts, converted Google's Voice Search into Samsung's S Voice and Google Wallet into Samsung Wallet.

In other words, Samsung has done a lot of work to look different, pure Android be damned.

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, and Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insight & Strategy, both agreed with Narcotta that it was too early in the recent Google-Samsung Prague Spring to delete the Magazine UX from the Pro tablets.

What might be more telling is what Samsung does with the Magazine UX in the next device, perhaps the Galaxy S5 smartphone, which could be announced by Samsung on Feb. 24 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

"It will be interesting to see if Magazine makes it down to the Samsung smartphones," Gold said. "Including it would be a bigger indication of 'separation' [from Google] in my opinion."

 

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