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Google and Samsung grow cozier with patent deal, Motorola sale

Matt Hamblen | Feb. 3, 2014
Samsung will hold onto its TouchWiz skin, but its new Magazine UX will quickly dwindle

Forked versions of Android add to challenges
Research firm ABI on Wednesday asked "Is Google losing Control of the Android Ecosystem?" noting that such forked Android smartphone shipments made up 25% of all 221.5 million Android smartphones shipped in the fourth quarter, an increase from 22% in the previous quarter.

The growth in forked Android smartphones made by Xiaomi, Coolpad, Giomee and others in the Android Open Source Project hurts Google's ability to monetize the Android ecosystem, said Nick Spencer, an ABI analyst, in an interview.

Samsung, on the other hand, with ZTE, Lenovo and Alcatel Lucent, are certified with other vendors in the Open Handset Alliance, giving users of their devices access to the Google Play Store and its apps.

Spencer said the cross-license deal between Google and Samsung is important for both companies. "A 10-year deal is a big deal, and it must be very financially beneficial for both of them," he said.

Google's steps to work closer with Samsung mean the two companies will be better equipped to compete with Apple and Microsoft, said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insight & Strategy. Samsung will be brought earlier into the Android product development process to ensure that Samsung has less incentive to create Android tweaks and homegrown services, he said.

With the threat of low-cost Android devices in many markets, Google realizes the value of keeping its biggest Android manufacturer in its camp. "Samsung is Android in mature markets, with an overwhelming share of the market, so Google wants them to be happy," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates.

"Getting rid of Moto made the relationship much more palatable to Samsung, and the cross-licensing of patents was just a first step in making the collaboration between Google and Samsung closer," Gold said.


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