Samsung's Galaxy S4 launch makes Google's Nexus smartphones more critical

Samsung's Galaxy S4 launch makes Google's Nexus smartphones more critical

Summary: Samsung was pushing its services over what Google's latest Android could bring to the table. That move could create an opportunity for other handset makers.


Samsung's Galaxy S4 launch appears to have been aimed at Google's Android as much as it was Apple's iPhone. If anything, Samsung's theatrical---some would say cheesy, overdone and nauseating---Galaxy S4 shindig at Radio City Music Hall made Google's Nexus efforts even more important.

On Thursday, Jason Hiner wondered if Samsung and Google were going Wintel or toward an Android divorce. Bet on divorce. It was obvious that Samsung was pushing its services over what Google's latest Android could bring to the table. In fact, many of the features of the Galaxy S4 appeared to be redundant with Google's latest flavor of Android. As James Kendrick noted, Samsung is moving farther from Android

To wit:

  • S Translate sounds interesting, but also rhymes with Google translate.
  • The Galaxy S4 will get you directions. GPS no more! Of course, Google Navigation also gets you where you want to go.
  • HomeSync is your personal cloud from Samsung. So is Google.

You get the idea.



Now the Galaxy S4 has an app that can connect to a wristband and track fitness and diet. That's interesting for sure. And there are a lot of nice perks with the Galaxy S4. The business features---SAFE and Knox---may aid Samsung's bring your own device efforts.

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 

But in the end, Samsung's latest dream phone distances the company from Google's Android. Like Amazon, Samsung has taken the OS and made it its own. That's fine, but it's unclear what happens when the latest Android comes out and there's all this customization. CNET's Roger Cheng added that Samsung already has a Key Lime problem in a month when the latest Android arrives. 

Add it up and it's clear that Google's Nexus smartphones, which are designed to give you a true Android experience and all the latest updates, have become even more strategic. Samsung's Galaxy S4 launch may become an opportunity for other handset makers (perhaps HTC or LG) because some smartphone buyers are going to want the true Android experience---not the reskinned one.

More about the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch on ZDNet:

Topics: Samsung, Android, Google, Mobility, Smartphones, Bring Your Own Device

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  • Spot on...

    You nailed the reason I went with the Nexus 4.
    Peter Sabin
    • Carrier lock in

      One of the biggest selling points for the Nexus 4 was it is sold unlocked and not tied to any carrier.

      it would be interesting to see how the Galaxy S4 will be sold. Many are already looking for devices not tied to any particular carrier -- and for the price of those high end phones, one should expect just that.
      • I have an S3 and will NOT go with S4

        The reason Samsung made it big, is because of Android. Samsung without Android is worthless.

        The HTC Sensation, takes better pictures, is less intrusive and more productive than the GS3 I have. Right now the Nexus 4 or future Nexus X as well as HTC One will be the way will upgrade the Sensation.

        What I am sure off.. I wont be a GS4
        • How to crash Samsung Android Market Share in 2 months

          The GS4 is a major blunder on Samsungs behalf.

          1. Take advantage of it. They wont be able to change course fast enough.
          2. Offer Android Stock experience now
          3. Offer your version of UI as an APP for your devices
          4. Match / Exceed S4 screen resolution
          5. Offer better cases than a plastic feel
          6. Improve Audio
          7. Offer not more pixels, but 8MPixels with higher ISO and lower lumens capture

          Samsung made a critical mistake, companies that take advantage of it, will reap off the benefits. Those unwilling to make necessary changes will keep on losing market share.
        • It isn't necessarily a blunder

          What Samsung wants is more of the pie for itself. Look for a Samsung play to come out as well.

          the only problem is if the do poor implementation - which is quite possible since the quickly changed quite a bit.

          If the implementation is poor eg Apple Maps Apple Siri, it could create a backlash against Samsung, when it has been doing quite well. Samsung could end up being the next HTC - leaving the top to someone new like LG which is really getting into the smartphone field with gusto.
      • RE: Carrier lock in

        Carrier lock iin is right. Would I like a Nexus 4? Maybe, but I can't. I am on a Verizon contract so I can't.

        So Google is releasing unlocked phones. Hey Great! Too bad they only make them in GSM models, and are leaving the Verizon - Sprint folks hung out to dry. You can buy one and run it on AT&T, but they use different 4G frequencies so you are buying a 3G phone.

        Google really dropped the ball on that one.
        • carriers fault for not standardising on GSM

          only in the US of A.
          rest of the world has moved on.
        • Can't Really Sell Unlocked CDMA Phone

          Google didn't drop the ball when selling unlocked Nexus 4 phones. They did what they could. Phones for CDMA networks don't have SIM cards. You can't join a new phone to a CDMA network without the carrier's blessing. If the phone is a model that they sell, then you can often get them to register it, but it's not the same thing as a fully unlocked phone. That's what's wrong with the CDMA network companies.
          • Verizon SIMS

            I thought the same way as you do about the absence of a SIM card in a Verizon phone, but in at least some of the phones, SIMs are there. Verizon won't allow their removal unless they have their backs against the wall. A friend wanted to remove the SIM in their phone, the Verizon store refused, but eventually gave in and removed the card. It was a long heated argument but the customer finally won out. This may not be the case with all phones but it is with some phones on the Verizon network. I wish there were was a standard among mobile companies and you could freely choose your carrier or change your carrier if you wanted or needed to. But that may not happen in my life time.
        • Never buy another Nexus device on VZW ever again...

          As a current holder of a GNex on VZW, I will never ever buy another Nexus device through VZW. If Google is smart, they'll never ever try to offer a Nexus device on VZW either.

          My GNex is still running 4.1.2. I don't know who's responsible for the delays but this combination pretty much defeats the purpose of having a Nexus device as I understand it: No manufacturer/carrier UI overlays and speedy Android updates. Sure, it's "pure Android" but there's been nothing speedy about the Android updates.
          • Verizon

            I have a Motorola X which I'm getting rid of soon. I've been a Verizon customer for 10 years and that will likely change too. They have taken away all the incentives for me to stay other than a few I can live without. My phone has received one system upgrade in 2 1/2 years, it will likely never see another. The next Nexus is said to have LTE, I may seriously look at it when the time comes. Unfortunately Verizon is the strongest network for my area. A friend is on ATT and they can't get calls out many times, but I can. So it will be difficult to leave Verizon but not impossible. In my area T- mobile and Sprint are weaker yet. Maybe I need to move.
          • Verizon

            My employer provides verizon service and a choice of phones. Had an HTC Incredible but had many hours on it and the only alternative they offered was a blackberry so I bought a GNex on craigslist and I like the phone alot. I was able to download 4.2 last weekend. My opinion is the verizon service itself sucks. My wife gets it through her employer too and she has been on it for as far back as I can remember. I have tried everybody over the years for my personal phone and I think T Mobile has the absolute best phone call quality. I am using Republic Wireless right now and the wifi calling is awesome but their cell coverage with sprint needs major improvement. I have noticed it makes me choose to wait til I get to wifi as opposed to making some calls while driving which I actually like. But use TMo for a while and you start realizing your not going "what, can you repeat that?" hardly ever. Verizon's system doesn't allow the calls to drop but they evolve in to an indistinguishable garble regularly, but hey it doesn't drop that call. After getting a taste of how they treat their commitment to Nexus customers and updates, verizon is the last service I would pay for, totally sucks.
          • Get cyaogen mod its better then any update you will get. If you dont want to use custom roms or anything and on top of that you got a phone on verizon , then dont complain its not unlocked , the unlocked you speak of can actually be on any network if your willing to do the work so locked or unlocked in your terms is nothing more then calling the manufacturer to give you the unlock code which they will do if you bought it cash duhhh ... this guy
          • Unlocked doesn't always mean any carrier

            Yes, the Nexus 4 is unlocked. However, it doesn't work on Verizon because the radio inside doesn't work on Verizon or Sprint's network.
          • Get and I phone

            Get and I phone you would be happy with less and you know it
          • Seriously

            The point of the unlocked boot loader has nothing to do with gsm or cdma, or the updates. if you want an unlocked phone and dont use custom roms then your just being an idiot in purchasing a phone you dont fully understand how to use. you dont fully realize your a sheep its okay most dont.
          • Don't blame Google

            Verizon is being stupid. They allow Apple to push iOS updates directly to iPhones, but noooo, it takes six months for a pure android device to get an update. Google just needs to flex its muscles and send the update to the phone, if they can, without Verizon's say-so. Google then can simply point out that they are tired of being on the short end of a double standard.
            If the phone says "Nexus," it deserves a speedy upgrade, no matter what.
      • Re: Carrier lock in

        It's really really weird to hear people in the US talk about their mobile phone market, as though it's such a novelty to buy a phone from anybody but a carrier. In the rest of the world, that's commonplace.
      • carrier lock-in

        Totally agree with Danbi.....they need to be unlocked for the price. Why spend time deciding who has best offer/tariff or some are limited by network cover.... as in the end you may be left having to go for a diff phone due to no appropriate contract
    • Spot wrong. 99.99% of users dont know what an os is, let alone care

      what version they have. Samsung could have completely switched to tizen or bada or even wp and users would just go right on buying whatever it was.
      Johnny Vegas