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Curious case of Google & Samsung with Android and Tizen

February 24, 2014

Ahead of the Mobile World Congress (MWC2014) this week in Barcelona, Samsung announced that their latest Gear 2 will operate in a new OS Tizen. Yes, Tizen not Android, this announcement from Samsung, one of the top android phone manufactures, has raised a lot of suspicions. But if you look at the events that unfolded within the past 2 to 3 years we would understand where this tug of war between Samsung and Google began.

It all began when Samsung began exploiting Android with too much of bloatware in its phone. These bloatware had created a lot of compatibility issues with Android as Google began releasing subsequent updates. Samsung users have to wait for months after Google releases an Android update.  With problems in the user interface and delayed updates Android as a brand was taking a lot of heat when compared to the rival iOS which had a seamless operation with regular updates. To top it all Samsung announced its association with Tizen. Definitely, Google was not happy!!!

Who is Tizen?

Tizen is an open source Linux based operating systems for Smartphone’s, tablets, in-vehicle entertainments, Smart TV’s and wearable devices. Tizen is a project of Linux Foundation and is governed by Technical Steering group consisting of Intel, Samsung, Fujitsu, Huawei, NTTDocomo and many others.

Welcome Motorola

Google though had a great mobile OS in the form of Android; it was in the mercy of handset makers who eventually filled up the operating system with bloatware which damaged the brand value of Android. All Google needed a hardware unit to support its software; this was achieved when Google acquired Motorola in 2011 for a whopping $12.5bn.

This deal sent in shivers across the handset makers, now Google was in a commanding position than ever before. Google can just release smart phones with stock android which would be much more efficient compared to other manufactures mobiles that had unwanted apps and bloatware. Google eventually launched Moto X and Moto G to showcase this.

An interesting article came up in Forbes few weeks back on how Google used Motorola to Smack up Samsung. Samsung cannot rely completely on a new OS like Tizen which is in its nascent stage with very few apps and a small developer community. It has to abide to Google’s terms and conditions, Google began to command the smart phone manufactures that their phone should contain all of Google’s apps thereby stamping their authority on the OEM’s.

Once the smart phone companies were brought into terms Google held back the patents and research lab of Motorola and sold the rest of the unit to Lenovo.

Transition from mobile to wearable tech

When this entire tussle was happening in the smart phone space, in the technology circle there was steady shift from the mobiles to wearable tech. And yet again Google started invading this space in a huge way with Google Glass. It’s been estimated that within the next decade mobiles would vanish and wearable tech would be next means of being connected. Samsung which sells almost one thirds of total mobiles sold cannot afford to stay back and watch their market crumble. They had to enter the arena of wearable products and this time they are not planning to rely on Google.

Though the next flagship Smartphone of Samsung, the Galaxy S5 will be based on Android, their strategy towards wearable products is planned in the HTML5 based Tizen. In this way as the world moves from mobile to wearable products the dependency of Samsung towards Android will be substantially reduced. By the time when wearable products becomes a daily routine Tizen can be established OS with considerable number of apps along with a thriving developer community. The planned Tizen Developers Conference in San Francisco in June would sow in the seeds for this plan.

There is also an interesting twist in these events, when a Korean Smartphone maker can plan out to this extent, the Mountain valley, California Search engine giant will have its own plans. Google’s glass is been tested across various avenues right from New York Police to Virgin Atlantic Airlines. And the opportunity to integrate Google glass in almost every day to day application is close to becoming a possibility. One has to wait and watch how this plot unfolds as the hardware that we use becomes more and closer to the humans in the form of wearable products. Certainly, Exciting times ahead!!!