Samsung and Google are reportedly in talks about the latter’s search services having a greater role on the former’s devices.
While Android and Google services are a fundamental part of the appeal of Samsung’s portfolio, the company has been wary of its devices becoming synonymous with Android. Samsung believes that its huge ecosystem of devices and the data generated should not be for Google to profit on alone.
The move could mean that future Samsung devices such as the Galaxy Note 20 and Galaxy Tab S7 could strip out features such as the Bixby voice assistant in favour of pushing Google's own search-related tools.
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The Korean electronics giant is the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer with Android powering the majority of its handsets for the past decade.
However its attempts at creating a rival operating system to Android have failed, with Tizen now restricted to wearables and smart TVs, although Samsung has persisted with Android customisations and other services. This is a strategy employed by other Android vendors to varying success.
While it might be difficult to wean users off more established products like search, Samsung believed emerging market such as voice-activated personal assistants provided more opportunity. ‘Bixby’ has been highly integrated into Samsung handsets – some of which have a dedicated button – taking traffic and valuable data away from Google Assistant.
Samsung also has its own application store for the distribution of software, however the short-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a contraction of the global smartphone market. As well as being the world’s biggest manufacturer, Samsung is also a key supplier of components to the industry.
A new deal with Google would provide a lucrative source of revenue. While Android users are perhaps more inclined towards Google than their iOS counterparts, a deal for Google to be the default search engine on the iPhone is worth billions of dollars.
This would of course be at the expense of Samsung’s own data collection efforts and the development of Bixby and a wider service ecosystem. According to Bloomberg, the new terms would see Samsung push the Google Play store and Google Assistant on its devices.
"Like all Android device makers, Samsung is free to create its own app store and digital assistant. That's one of the great features of the Android platform. And while we regularly talk with partners about ways to improve the user experience, we have no plans to change that."
“Samsung remains committed to our own ecosystem and services," said Samsung. "At the same time, Samsung closely works with Google and other partners to offer the best mobile experiences for our users.”
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