Samsung (005930) is the world’s top Android smartphone vendor by a staggering margin. Aside from LG (066570), which managed a small $20 million profit from its mobile division last quarter, no other global Android vendor can figure out how to make money selling Android phones. Meanwhile, Samsung posted a $6 billion profit on $47.6 billion in sales in the third quarter, thanks largely to record smartphone shipments and a massive marketing budget. Even as industry watchers turn sour on Apple, Samsung is seen steamrolling into 2013 and its stock is up nearly 50% on the year while Apple (AAPL) shares continue to fall from a record high hit in September. As unstoppable as Samsung appears right now, one key question remains: Is Samsung driving Android’s success or is Android driving Samsung’s success? Starting in 2013, we may finally begin to find out.
Earlier this year, BGR wrote about Samsung’s effort to look beyond Android. Even with its own UI and application suite — and even with its own content services — Samsung will always rely on Google (GOOG) if it continues to base its devices on Google’s latest Android builds.