Samsung and Google have an interesting relationship.
As of last fall, Samsung devices accounted for 63.3% of all Android phones worldwide. This large market share can make things tense between the two companies: Executives at Google have talked openly about Samsung gaining too much power over it.
Google wants Samsung phone users to rely on the products and services that make it money, but Samsung has increasingly started making its own custom apps. (Interestingly, Google announced at its I/O conference that it would be baking some aspects of Samsung KNOX into its Android for Work features to attract enterprise clients.)
There have also long been fears that Samsung could start using a “forked” version of Android, which would cut it off from Google’s Play Store ecosystem entirely.
As Google’s head of Android, Chrome, and Apps, Sundar Pichai deals with Samsung more than anyone. In an interview with Wired’s Stephen Levy (who wrote a book about Google called “In The Plex”) Pichai expands on the relationship between the two companies after Levy asks him how much Samsung is a friend and how much it’s an enemy.
“Samsung and us are in this together for a very long run because it makes sense for us to be in it together to win,” he says. “I view us as fellow travellers. We realise unless we coordinate, we won’t be able to produce a great user experience.”
Pichai says the two teams work incredibly hard and close together on a daily basis. Sometimes the Samsung exec team will meet with Google in the U.S., but Pichai will go to Korea in the next several weeks. He told Levy he cherishes his very good relationship with Samsung co-CEO J.K. Shin, and that the meetings are good.
This warm enthusiasm comes shortly after The Information’s Amir Efrati reported about an uncomfortable meeting at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In a heated moment, Pichai reportedly told Samsung’s mobile-products execs he was “willing to walk away from Samsung,” essentially forbidding the company from using Android.