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Posted on March 15th, 2013 by Barry Collins

Samsung just cut Google out of Android

Samsung Galaxy S4 white

In this month’s PC Pro, our Talking Point asks whether Samsung’s Galaxy brand is now bigger than Google? Had we written that after last night’s launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4, I suspect the conclusions would have been rather different.

Make no mistake: Samsung just shafted Google. The company spent about 10% of last night’s launch event talking about the new hardware, and the remainder of “the show” unveiling a phalanx of new services, many of which fall into direct competition with Google’s own. Android has effectively become a piece of open-source firmware on Samsung’s latest handset, not the money-generating gateway to services that Google intended it to be.

Tell me why Google’s share price is flying so high, again?

The most obvious Google killer is the Samsung Hub, an integrated store offering music, video, books, games and educational content. Samsung’s just launched its own Play store and put it front and centre on its devices. “You can browse through a variety of content across services, as well as purchase and manage content easily from a single Samsung Account,” says the press release, cutting Google and its 30% cut on Play purchases out of the picture.

Then there’s Samsung Apps “a newly updated service that provides search functionality for applications which are specialised for Samsung devices, and Google Play, as well.”  Talk about throwing them a bone.

That’s not to mention Samsung ChatON – a “holistic communication experience” that combines instant messaging and voice/video calls – that steps on the toes of Google+; S Translator which a direct rival to Google Translate; and Story Album, which collates all your smartphone photos in much the same way Google Photos does.

There’s even a veiled threat to Google Maps Navigation, in the form of S Voice Drive, which allows drivers to dictate messages and control the phone via voice commands while their hands are on the wheel. There’s no satnav as yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

Samsung has taken the free Android, and then attempted to cut Google out of most, if not all, of the money-making parts of the operating system. It’s taken full advantage of the open nature of Android and turned the robot on its master. Tell me why Google’s share price is flying so high, again?

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22 Responses to “ Samsung just cut Google out of Android ”

  1. Steve O Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Now I wouldn’t say I’m a Google fan per se, but its software and services are generally very good. Samsung’s attempts so far have been clumsy and unreliable. I’d *rather* use Google atm, so Samsung shutting it out is actually off-putting for me.

  2. Ryan Thomas Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Samsung’s Hub, Apps and ChatON will wither and die. None of these companies EVER manage to get any tractions with these kind of services as they are not transferable to different manufacturers’ hardware – it’s another iOS-style lock-in, but on a platform with many alternatives.

  3. Brian Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 11:08 am

    What is Barry rambling on about? Samsung Hub, Apps & ChatOn have been on Samsung phones since at least the first Galaxy S. They haven’t pushed Google out of the way and they won’t be soon, either. Google services are some of the best things on any Android phone. Especially Google Now and Voice Search.

    The day I read a positive review on an Android phone (or Windows 8, for that matter) without the “BUT” statements, I’ll drop dead of shock.

  4. Ryan Thomas Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Brian, it seems to be not so much the existence of these services, but the fact they have been pushed front and centre – Android itself was hardly (if at all) mentioned last night. And lets not turn this into “PCPro is pro-Apple/anti-Apple” as we all know where that is going to end. ALL reviews have a ‘but…’ section, as it were, as nothing is ever perfect.

  5. Chatan Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 11:38 am

    The problem I’ve always had with the likes of Samsung, HTC etc isn’t that the products they provide are out of date as soon as the next one comes out. I’ve had Samsung Galaxy Tab tablets which seem to be dropped from being updated the second a newer one comes out (which seems like it’s every month!). At least Google provide some support for their older devices.

    I’m sure most people don’t really care about this tho – they upgrade every 18-24 months to the newest thing.


  6. Kev Partner Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Why would a samsung user bother with anything other than Google Play? Around 750,000 apps, a complete library of music, movies and books and, above all, no manufacturer lock-in.
    It makes absolute sense for Samsung to try to divert users to its stores – that doesn’t mean it’ll succeed. Note that it didn’t disable Google Play since that would have been suicidal.

  7. Omar Sa'd Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Google Drive has nothing to do with navigation or S Voice Driver.

    Google Drive is a storage medium just as Sky Drive and Dropbox.

  8. Nelviticus Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    I have a ‘Samsung Apps’ app on my Galaxy Note II, plus various Samsung ‘hub’ apps. Without exception they are dreadful.

    If Samsung have shafted Google then they’ve done it with an over-cooked stick of spaghetti and it really isn’t going to hurt.

  9. halsteadk Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    “The day I read a positive review on an Android phone…”

    Brian, you’ll note that the Galaxy S3 is currently PC Pro’s A-listed smartphone, ousting the iPhone into second place. Criticising something doesn’t equal bias, perhaps it is your own bias that leads to such comments.

  10. Tim Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Google Drive = cloud storage

    S Voice Drive = voice command

    I cannot believe a technology site/mag would make such a howler.

  11. Barry Collins Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Apologies for the Google Drive error. Now corrected.

    Barry Collins

  12. Graham Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    Alternatively, Samsung have shafted themselves by installing even more unwanted bloatware and I’ll be looking for a Nexus when my SGS3 needs replacing (likely to be sooner rather than later given the build quality).

  13. Daniela Ortu Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I personally have a Samsung Galaxy SIII and I have never used any of the samsung apps…actually I find them rather annoying…

  14. David Wright Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    @Barry Navigation? Shouldn’t that be Google’s Voice Assistant?

    Must be Friday… ;-)

  15. codlike Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    The sad thing is, if Samsung released all there software innovations to all of Android then they might end up with what they would like, people actually using them and some traction. Ive had an S3 for the last year and i love it, best phone I’ve ever had, but I’ve never used ChatOn, I know no one on it, I’ve never used the Samsung App store, I’ve never used Samsungs modified NFC to share a picture by bumping phones, as I can only do that with someone else with an S3…. But if I could use them with everyone some of their half baked software innovations might just catch on. If smart stay was an app on the android store, everyone would use it. I like the S4, looks like a very worthy upgrade, and I did watch the whole of the launch, it helped me get to sleep last night.

  16. deaglecat Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    To be fair, this is an issue for Google. When the (far and away) biggest seller of android handsets starts promoting competing services …then Google have got to be worried.

    I understand that Samsung (like all android handset OEMs) are crappy at apps… but they may not be so bad in future.. and that also is a problem.

    Finally, the icing on the cake would be some carrier specific bloatware pre-installed on the ROMs. We will then have achieved the nirvana of takng a best in class hardware platform…and wrecking it.

  17. Dale Walker Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 7:09 pm

    I prefer Android because of the relative freedom it gives me. Samsung’s attempts at lock-ins is not doing it any favours. However the biggest problem with the S4 for me is just how ugly and chintzy it looks. No matter how far ahead it may be in specs, I’d still be embarrased to show it in public.

    I’m pretty miffed that the HTC One hasn’t got a removable battery and the same goes for the Nexus 4 but I’d still prefer either of those to the S4.

    Going to have to make some hard decisions soon. I’m really keeping my fingers crossed that the battery life on the HTC One will be good enough for me. I’m not that much of a fan of vanilla Android (it’s the lack of joined up core apps, not the OS itself that I don’t like) so the Nexus 4 is pulling me less than it ought to but a working phone is better than a non working phone so if the HTC One’s battery is crap, that’s where I’ll be heading.

  18. dubiou Says:
    March 15th, 2013 at 9:57 pm

    Google have nothing to fear from Samsung. My S2 has never been asked to open a Samsung app. Indeed, I’ve just downloaded a Jelly Bean 4.2.2 Vanilla Android ROM for the bloat-free Nexus experience.
    BUT (see what I did there?) I am tempted to see if Samsung undercut Google on their media offerings…
    …suppose I should check before flashing :)

  19. Richard Chapman Says:
    March 16th, 2013 at 4:35 am

    Samsung Hub has been around for ages, and is clearly differentiated from Google Play – in the main, by being useless. Samsung Apps is even more sickly. And who, even on phones as popular as these, is going to use Samsung’s social network?

    It’s good to see some competition for things Google could be trying harder at, like voice control, but Galaxy phones will continue to act as gaping inlets to Google’s heaving coffers.

  20. Alan Says:
    March 16th, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Totally agree with comments above – Samsung’s software is of very little interest to me and if they do anything to block/reduce the usability of Google services then I’ll happily just buy from another manufacturer! Most of their software has been about in previous iterations previously and I find it pretty rubbish (just think of Kies!). I prefer proper cross-manufacturer Android apps – like Google Music, much better than a Samsung Hub. I buy more of my music from Amazon anyway as they’re cheaper than Google!

  21. Mo Says:
    April 11th, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Android is Samsung. Period. If it were not for the hardware that us churned out by Samsung Android would be third string – perhaps lower with Apple being first and MS and Blackberry battling it out for second and third. By cutting Google out of the money generation for services, Samsung is now one step closer to building it’s own operating system. That will happen – period because Samsung has built a cult following for it’s products. Android is a Linux / UNIX based kernel that can easily be replicated – and in fact improved upon by Samsung. Slap a flashy / catchy name on the new OS and Android is dead. Think I am wrong? Isn’t that that what Apple has done? Cool products, great marketing, catchy OS name which results in and identifiable brand that Apple controls from end to end. These two companies will control the hardwrae space for a long time because of branding butthe rela money is the intregartion of teh cloud and serivces with computing. IBM and Microsoft are the undisputed leaders of the field because they invest billions every year in research. MS already has the integration in full swing with corporations and is doing the same with consumers. Google gets almost all of it’s revenue from Marketing (re: Advertisements on their web pages). They have no dog whatsoever in cloud computing, online professional services and integration. None – period.

  22. Android Gamer Says:
    February 1st, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Absolutely, Samsung is pushing hard to bring its tizen phones into the competitive smartphone market but it doesn’t look like a wise move.


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