The debate about the financial implications of Google’s acquisition and sale of Motorola goes on in the wake of Lenovo’s purchase of the company yesterday, but one thing that’s for sure is that the deal is good news for Samsung.
It may be the world’s largest smartphone maker — based on pretty much any metric you choose — but things are getting a little tougher for the Korean firm. Its explosive sales growth has been slowing for some time and, while Motorola hadn’t challenged it on sales, it was developing quality Android devices, like the Moto X, which had the potential to rival Samsung’s Galaxy family. There was also always the issue of Google owning Motorola and Android itself.
Now Lenovo has removed those points of fraction and, looking at other developments, it seems that Google’s fractured relationship with Samsung is on the mend. (Lest we forget that Google executives were reportedly “worried” by Samsung’s dominance of Android one year ago, while Samsung has dabbled with mobile platforms beyond Android.)
Indeed, 9to5google makes a compelling argument that the Lenovo-Motorola deal “has Samsung written all over it” — and there is certainly plenty of evidence to support a theory that the deal was made to appease Samsung.
Firstly, there are signs of increased unison between the two companies. The duo agreed to their first patent licensing deal at the beginning of the week, citing the desire to promote innovation not litigation. (Samsung has said that before, but we found it hard to take seriously coming after the trial with Apple.)
Secondly, there are reports that Samsung has agreed to “dial back” some of the tweaks and design tailoring that it had become renowned for on its Android devices. Case in point, a leaked image purporting to be its upcoming Touchwiz UI suggests it may give Google Now and other Googley parts of Android greater visibility going forward, rather than hiding them away from users.
Thirdly, as 9to5Google points out, Moto was developing into a Samsung rival — despite continuing to hemorrhage cash. Motorola’s ownership of Google was always a major concern and conflict of interest, but there were signs it could steal increasing market share from Samsung — which would make Google’s conflict of interest all the more awkward.
Regardless of whether the deal was made to appease Samsung, or Google took the reigns to breathe life into Motorola and re-energize the Android ecosystem, Samsung is certainly among the biggest benefactors. That said, the deal brings increased competition as Lenovo will become the mobile industry’s third largest player — behind Samsung and Apple — although it will keep the Motorola brand separate.
It will be interesting to see what Samsung has in store for Tizen — the Linux-based operating system that it has backed. That commitment Tizen is evidence of Samsung’s desire to explore other platforms, which was doubtless increased by Google’s (brief) foray into competing hardware. Samsung’s first Tizen device is almost certain to emerge at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona next month.
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