Ever since Samsung became the dominant Android phone company, people have predicted that eventually Samsung would “fork” Android.
“It’s not a matter of if, just when,” one source in the industry told us two years ago.
Forking Android would be like what Amazon has done with Android. Samsung would rip out all of Google’s core apps and replace it with its own set of applications. It would add its own user interface layer making Android look unique to Samsung.
It wasn’t just mobile industry sources who were worried about Samsung forking Android.
Executives at Google talked openly about Samsung gaining too much power over Android, Amir Efrati at The Information reports. He says this was part of the reason Google bought Motorola in a deal valued at $US12.5 billion. It wanted leverage over Samsung.
Two years ago, the fear of Samsung forking Android made perfect sense. Samsung was the dominant Android phone company, but it looked like its future was uncertain. Samsung’s success wasn’t well understood, and people thought it could be dethroned by another Android phone company.
By creating its own version of Android, Samsung could stand out from the crowded field of Android phone makers. It would totally control its users just like Apple totally controls its iOS users.
For Google, this would have been a disaster. It would effectively lose control of its platform.
Samsung never did fork Android. It looks increasingly unlikely that it ever will fork Android.
Samsung may be very talented at quickly manufacturing hardware products, but it is no good at making software and applications (Walt Mossberg called the S4 “weak” and “gimmicky”). Therefore, it would be taking a huge risk by ditching the well-liked, and highly successful, Android platform for a platform of its own.
This is part of the reason Google felt comfortable selling Motorola. It didn’t need leverage against Samsung since Samsung failed to put any pressure on Google.
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