Coming soon: The Samsung Phone platform

Coming soon: The Samsung Phone platform

Summary: Samsung's roadmap to completely obscure the fact it uses Google's OS is almost complete. Samsung Phone will be coming soon to a smartphone and tablet near you.


Samsung embraced the Android platform early on as it needed a decent OS to drive its mobile hardware. Android had everything it needed: a rapid development effort by Google; open source; growing ecosystem; free to modify by OEMs.

While OEMs jumped on the Android bandwagon with Samsung, they were all looking over their shoulder at the fruity phone from Cupertino. Meanwhile Samsung had all of those OEMs firmly in its own sights.

See also: Samsung Galaxy S 4: Moving further from Android | Samsung Android: Better than Google's Android

It seems apparent that as Samsung's market share grew the company formed a game plan to take it to the next level. The company realized that as long as so many companies were producing Android phones, it couldn't stand out from the crowd. It needed its own brand to rise to the top, so that's what it set out to do.

The customizations that Samsung put on its Android phones were only slightly different from the rest in the beginning. Android enthusiasts blasted Samsung for its simple TouchWiz interface, as it was considered ugly bloatware that interfered with the pure Android experience.

The launch: Amid great expectations, the Samsung Galaxy S4 has arrived | Samsung reveals the Galaxy S4 (photos) | Samsung's Galaxy S4 first to launch with B2B tool Knox | Samsung's Galaxy S4 focuses on differentiation but reveals growing problem for handset makers On CNETFull coverage of Samsung Galaxy S4 launch

Even marketing aimed at Apple was a shotgun blast at all the other Android phone makers.

That was OK with Samsung as it realized it had to be different to create its own branding in the Android world. Its developers continued plugging away to make its Android offering unique, and it did so by adding good functionality to its phones.

The rest of the Android OEMs continued to try and compete with the iPhone with no success. They produced as many phones as they could, the equivalent of throwing them up against the wall to see which one would "stick." Through it all, they listened to the tech pundits and the core Android enthusiasts exhorting them to keep the UX close to the "real" Android experience.

While this manic activity was going on, Samsung just kept adapting the Android distributions to be totally different from that core Android model. It added one feature after another and showed them to the buying public with smart marketing. That marketing sealed the fate of the other Android OEMs as Samsung successfully buried Android under its own skin. Even marketing aimed at Apple was a shotgun blast at all the other Android phone makers.

This worked, probably better than even Samsung thought it might. Samsung is probably selling more "Android" phones than all the other OEMs combined. Not only is the Samsung flavor of the UX gaining favor with the mainstream market, it's pushing Android further out of consumers' eyes. That is crystal clear if you look at the press coverage of the Galaxy S4 launch. Only Apple generates this much buzz with a single product.

It's no accident that Android wasn't mentioned at the cheesy Galaxy S4 launch event recently held in NYC. The message was clear that it is Samsung's phone through and through. Sure, Android is at the kernel of it all, but that doesn't matter. It's all Samsung now.

Samsung's dominance of the entire Android ecosystem is almost to the point where it can control its own destiny. Google cannot afford for Samsung to go away — the entire Android system would implode.

This powerful position will keep getting stronger once the S4 hits the market. Samsung will be in a position to officially proclaim its own fork of Android as a real thing. Samsung Phone will be born.

This new platform will still be based on Android but it won't be acknowledged by the company. It will be marketed as its own OS, which, technically, it will be. "It's a Samsung phone" will have significant new meaning as the company touts its own creation.

Samsung will heavily promote its ecosystem, or hubs. This will become the backbone of the Samsung Phone platform. Google Play will still be buried on the Samsung phones, but not promoted. 

The key to make this work is that Samsung, like only Apple, controls its own supply chain. It makes its own components and thus controls everything from start to finish.

What about Tizen, the OS that Samsung and others are looking at to potentially replace Android? I believe there are two reasons Samsung is looking at Tizen. First and foremost, Samsung is using Tizen as a misdirection to keep Google and Android OEMs from seeing exactly where Samsung is headed with Samsung Phone.

Secondly, playing with Tizen, and Samsung says a phone will be released this year running it, is a trial run for the company to have its own platform. It is getting the infrastructure in place to "launch" the Samsung Phone platform.

Having a forked version of Android will not appeal to Android enthusiasts and tech pundits in general. Expect a lot of gnashing of teeth and pounding of keyboards to proclaim how big a mistake Samsung is making. Some, like my colleague Jason Perlow, won't like the new Samsung Phone.

That's OK with Samsung. The company has learned the most important lesson from Apple: It doesn't matter what these small fringe groups think or say. It only matters what the hundreds of millions of mainstream consumers say. And it believes they will be saying "I have a Samsung Phone."

More about the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch on ZDNet:

Topics: Mobility, Android, Google, Samsung

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  • Samsung and Nokia (with MS) are the only ones driving innovation

    Kudos Samsung. Kudos Nokia. Kudos MS. Thanks to you, there is real innovation in the market.

    Still really like my Nokia Lumia 920 but I have to admit, the dark side is calling. Will I become a Samsung customer this year? Their Note 8 product looks like it might be just the tablet I'm looking for and the Note 2 might just be the phone I'm looking for.

    The only way this could get better is if there were any other companies in the mobile market that were putting out good stuff. Kudos on HTC for trying though.
    • Goodbye Nokia and Windows phone

      When a Microsoft devotee is considering moving, the fate is pretty much sealed. Samsung and Google will destroy Nokia and Windows long before they significantly hurt Apple's offerings.
      • Tizen will be a flop

        It's boring and Samsung will waste too much time on it to truly put devotement in any other platform... Windows Phone sells more and more, while the iPhone is losing ground due to a lack of noticeable improvements and an iPhone 5s would only hurt Apple.
        Simon Tupper
        • "Windows Phone sells more and more..."

          ...well, hope springs eternal, I guess.
          • Well.....

            As far as percentages go, it is the highest growth percentage. Yeah its from a lower number, but if they keep that pace going it won't be too long before they have a 10 - 20% share. Obviously this would be outside the US where Windows Phone is selling pretty well in some markets. The US is just too much a 2 horse race right now with the media pimping iPhones and Galaxies.
    • It seems most of MS's OEMs are doing a good job lately.

      From ultra-books to tablets to transformers, the days of the heavy, ugly, 2" thick plastic laptop are fading away.

      Personally waiting to see where atom tablets head on the smaller form faster later in the year.
    • Not trying to pile on....

      But when I read the headlines:
      "New Samsung CEO says there is 'lackluster demand' for Windows tablets and phones", it seems obvious to me that Samsung is no friend of Microsoft.
      • Totally agree

        I don't think these statements are made in an "off the cuff" manner.

        While I'm still not a fan of conspiracy theories, it does lend credence to the idea that Samsung might be sabotaging Microsoft to eliminate a future competitor.

        And that's okay, all is fair in love and war.
        • Which sends you back to the fry station, troll

          • So you....

            Tell someone they will be going back to the fry station, and you think they are the troll? Bit narcissistic are we?
          • Actually...

            it's more human than you are.
        • Samsung do not need to sabotage Microsoft

          Microsoft are their own worst saboteur.
      • Well you have to read in between lines there

        They want to focus on Tizen. They launched the WP8 platform very late into the market. They didn't build good ecosystem like Nokia is doing. Other than their original Samsung Focus (Windows Phone 7), their later offerings are lackluster. They want Android still because they could budge on it until Tizen picks up.
        Ram U
    • You can switch.....

      But I would bet you a whole bunch of money the stability of the phone will bother you compared to a Windows Phone. I started out with many Android phones all the way to Honeycomb and though the HTC did fairly well, the Samsung I had was just non-stop "force close" and reboots randomly. I have been on the HTC Trophy and now the HTC 8X and I have never had a lock up or random reboot in over 2 years. And performance just blows Android out of the water and is why Samsung must put quad core procs in their phones.
    • ms betrayal

      Toddy, what happened to your Surface RT? Collecting dust with your iPad?

      You do hope, that eventually trying a third platform might make you learn what tablets can and cannot do?
      • Nope, using my Surface RT right now

        I've posted several times about my 1 complaint with the Surface RT: lack of a real digitizer.

        I'm considering a Note 8 (why not try Android, I've never owned an Android device) or an Atom Windows 8 tablet with digitizer.

        I know what I won't be getting again: another ipad. Those are horrible, terrible devices. Useless.
        • If digitizer is your real wanting

          why don't you try Samsung ATIV Smart PC. It is really good and gives better battery life?

          I want to run AutoCAD, thats why I picked up Surface Pro in addition to RT otherwise I would've gone with ATIV Smart PC.
          Ram U
          • That is one possibility

            I'm curious to try out the 8" form factor which is why I'm interested in the Note 8.

            I'm going to wait until Haswell tablets come out and then make a decision. I'm in no hurry. My Surface RT is fantastic in every other way.
          • 8 inch

            That extra inch makes a huge difference. I have a 7.7 inch tablet and it's much better for reading text. Of course I have it set the font size set to "HUGE" also, but I don't have to wear reading glasses.
        • curious

          If the next Apple iPad comes with the best digitizer ever, would you considering swallowing your hate for Apple? :)

          You know, Apple are perfectly capable of that - it is just a matter of priority for them - if the market wants active digitizers in the iPad, they will be there one day.

          Yes, I know all that about Steve Jobs and the pen you are going to say. But can you believe me, I don't even own an keyboard and still type all day long (including this) on my iPad. While an active digitizer would be novelty in the iPad and I might enjoy experimenting with it, the use cases are very limited. Believe it or not, but AutoCAD works marvelous on the iPad with just your finger.
          (Try it one day, it's free and you still do own an iPad)
          As for inking... I would rather use something like Livescribe, with real ink on real paper, than whatever tablet based. If you ever used both, you will not ask me why :)