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Why Samsung needs to move beyond Android -- and Google

Matt Hamblen | July 14, 2014
The company's profit problems show its hardware focus isnt enough.

Ben Thompson, in a Stratechery blog entitled " Smartphone truths and Samsung's inevitable decline," noted that Samsung's "fundamental problem is that they have no software-based differentiation" like Apple.

It could be argued that much of what Samsung has done with the creation of Knox, its various S apps and even the building of the Samsung Galaxy Apps store is an attempt to provide just that kind of differentiation from other Android device makers, and even from "pure Android" from Google. But so far, that hasn't been enough to boost Samsung's profits.

It's not clear what Samsung needs to do with software to reverse its decline. There's apparently no unique Samsung-specific OS in the works, although there is likely to be a further distancing from Android, and Google.

"I fully expect to see Samsung diverge from mainstream Android in the future where it serves their own interests," Gold said. "Tizen is not the best example of this, as I believe Tizen will have limited use and appeal. But in the coming world of the Internet of Things, you'll see other tweaks made to base-level Android beyond what Google has done with Android Wear."

Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar WorldPanel, said Samsung needs to go beyond being a frequent producer of new and multiple varieties and sizes of hardware in smartphones and tablets. That means ultimately separating itself, somewhat, from Google.

"The war in the end will be won on the mobile ecosystem and not on device sales and because of that, Samsung needs to go beyond hardware. App store, services, enterprise focus — they all add hooks into the buyer on top of hardware. Samsung's need to go beyond hardware is clear from their financials."

Noting that the growth opportunity in smartphones is tightening, Milanesi said tablets are still hard to sell easily while wearables are so far just a niche market.

Vendors such as Samsung "need to think how else they can add value to what they offer to engage users," Milanesi said. "Samsung is too big of a fish in the mobile market to be totally dependent on Google."


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