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Samsung Wants to Ditch Android According to Court Documents

by Sean P. Aune | April 12, 2014April 12, 2014 9:00 am PDT

Android Figure - Andrew Bell

According to recently revealed company documents, it appears that Samsung has indeed looked into the possibility of ridding itself of Android for a homegrown operating system.

The current court case between Apple and Samsung is providing an immense amount of entertainment for industry watchers as potentially embarrassing documents continue to flow at a regular clip from both sides of the court room. The latest document to surface, however, isn’t so much embarrassing as concerning for the entire mobile industry as it may be shaken up with the release of yet another operating system. In this case, Tizen.

It is sure to not come as a surprise to anyone that follows the mobile industry with any regularity that Samsung has explored the possibility of leaving Android for its own operating system. The Tizen OS has been in development for some time now, and while it has seen delays, it is finally making its way into consumer’s hands in a limited capacity as the software running Samsung’s latest line of wearables: The Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo and Gear Fit. Consumers, for the most part, will never know that it is a new OS powering the devices, but it is a sure sign that Samsung is still actively working on this project. And new court documents uncovered by AppleInsider give us a good indication as to why the Korean company is continuing to pump money into this.

In the newly revealed documents from the trial, it seems that in Sept. 2011, Samsung identified three road blocks to its future success in the mobile industry: Apple, HTC and, oddly enough, Samsung itself.

Apple being listed as an enemy comes as a surprise to no one, but all the same Samsung felt obligated to mention that it needed to blunt its sales. As for HTC, it saw the company not as an ally in the OS war that was picking up steam at the time, but instead as a threat due to its higher build quality and its dominance in a market Samsung referred to as “Carrier Friendly Good Enough,” or, in other words, low and mid-tier handsets.

Samsung carrier friendly good enough document

As you can see in the document, sales figures revealed at the time HTC was pretty soundly beating Samsung at the big two carriers in the U.S. in that field.

Where things take the oddest turn in the documents is where Samsung refers to itself as the enemy. It said that it wasn’t winning the “last three feet” at retail, which means that carrier employees – AT&T specifically – were recommending the iPhone 71 percent of the time compared to only 18 percent of the time for Samsung. It also identified that over 30 products had missed their initial launch windows in the previous 12 months at that time, and that the Galaxy brand name was failing to catch on with consumers. Add in the fact that Samsung said keeping all of its products updated was also taking away resources from working on other aspects of its business, and a picture of an unhappy Android producing company certainly begins to take shape.

After all of this comes the view of launching a third mobile platform.

Samsung third platform chart

At the time the document was drafted Bada was still the possible contender, but that has now turned into the Tizen OS. No matter which operating system it is, however, it seems clear that Samsung does want to remove itself from the Android ecosystem and forge a path on its own for a while now.

There are of course many hurdles to overcome before Samsung could get Tizen to that position, and winning marketshare will rely heavily on how many developers it can bring onboard and at what speed. One of the biggest consumer complaints about the Windows Phone OS has been the lack of apps, and if Samsung sends out an operating system with little to no third-party support, it won’t last long.

None of the revelations come as gigantic surprises as most of it has been assumed for years, but seeing it in official Samsung documents does put a new twist on the story. Can Samsung make it on its own in the wilds of the mobile landscape with Tizen? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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Sean P. Aune

Sean P. Aune has been a professional technology blogger since July 2007, but his love of tech dates back to at least 1976 when his parents bought...


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