Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Samsung: Hard Choices Ahead But Right Strategy Could Mean Mobile Supremacy


Samsung has distanced itself from Nokia to become the biggest handset seller in the world.  It has also managed to topple Apple in smartphone units shipped (there is controversy between the units shipped analysts estimate for Samsung and Apple’s reported iPhones sold).  Now that we have an new undisputed leader in mobile, what is Samsung’s next move?  Has Samsung’s dominance in the Android market meant the threat created by Google’s Motorola purchase diminished?  The threat being that Google could try to rein in control of how Android is deployed.



Galaxy S III is a few weeks out and should begin its huge roll-out towards the end of May or early June.  Obviously, one would hope that the S3 will run Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest Android version.  However, the problem is that it has taken more than six months from the release of Android 4 to the release of the hottest line of Android device.  And Android 5 should be out four months or so after the S3 unveiling.  It is difficult for users to reconcile the timing discrepancy.  Even now, many Galaxy S II owners have not seen ICS deployed yet.

Maybe this is something that Google needs to deal with – either convinces its hardware partners to coincide their releases closer to new Android updates or Google needs to move Android releases to spring when most flagship devices are released by Samsung and HTC.

Samsung has a few choices to make in this regard.  After all, being the biggest Android supporter, despite the Korean firm’s wariness of the Google-Motorola merger, should be able to exert some pressure on Google in this regard.   Samsung also happens to be Google’s partner in developing the Galaxy Nexus.  Furthermore, there is rumors that Microsoft is looking to Samsung’s S3 hardware specs to release Windows 8 on.  Furthermore, Bada OS development continues despite finding not much success outside of certain Asian markets.

For now, going with Windows 8 and continuing to work on Bada continues to be hedges against what Google may ultimately decide to do with Android.  And Google needs Samsung now more than ever.  And it’s not like Samsung can really go else where.  Windows 8 is untested and and Bada’s market share is just a tad better than Windows Phone.  If anything, a Google-Samsung merger, however problematic, would have made more sense than the $12 billion Motorola buyout.

Still, Samsung is in a death match with Apple at this time. Both Apple and Samsung have executed their mobile strategies flawlessly at this time.  However, unlike Apple who owns its iOS and iTunes ecosystem, Samsung needs to make sure Google doesn’t falter in any way with Android development and its deployment plans doesn’t undercut Samsung’s mobile expansion.  You might say that the iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S and Samsung’s Galaxy S to Galaxy S II improvements were evolutionary incremental improvements.   2012-2013 Will be the year to watch to see if Samsung could finally put some distance between itself and its competitors, regardless of who they are.

No comments: