Samsung owns the vast majority of the market share for Android, 29.6% in fact. That may not seem like a big number, but it dominates the competitors: in Q4 2013 alone Samsung shipped 86 million phones. That’s on top of a platform that already owns the vast majority of smartphone OS market share at a good 81%. This puts Samsung in a very good position to dictate what the current state of Android is….and it’s very far removed from creator Google’s vision.
It starts with Touchwiz as pointed out in a recent Forbes article. A Samsung technology to provide a new user experience and frontend to Android that replaces or adds many different features to the Android smartphone. Some good, some bad….while many critics argue that Touchwiz is a terrible and bloated interface, you can’t argue with sales numbers and hardware. This extended to other Samsung products including it’s popular television sets and a new OS in development at Samsung to replace Android: Tizen. But that hides the core of the “Android experience” as it’s been dubbed in the media. And Google wants Samsung to sit down, shut-up and keep licensing Google technology.
This is where Motorola came into play.
Acquiring Motorola for 12.5 billion dollars and then selling it for 2.91 billion on the surface seems like a bad business decision. And surely enough there were many pundits that made that call. But what the majority are forgetting are the numerous patents acquired from the sale for mobile technology (around 17,000 to be precise). This sale occurred in 2011. A few years later, Google decided to use Motorola to teach Samsung a lesson.
Enter the Motorola Droid RAZR, X and G. Three popular phones that run almost bare stock Android. The purpose of these phones were simple, show users what fast, simple Android could do on it’s own. Google also began focusing more effort on the Nexus line, dropping Samsung as the manufacturer and taking on LG to release the Nexus 4.
Clearly the growing popularity of these phones and the market share of Motorola under Google was threatening to Samsung. So they decided to cut a deal in which they would license Google technology for 10 years. Effectively cutting off Tizen and with promises that Samsung would stop cutting out stock Android apps for it’s own Touchwiz interface.
The next day, Lenovo bought Motorola from Google for 2.91 billion dollars.