Samsung might be Google’s most important partner for Android but the relationship between the two companies is anything but cordial. Things went downhill at this year’s CES where Samsung showcased its latest Galaxy Tab with a Magazine UI that didn’t prominently showcase Google services.
At that time Google execs were already in talks with Samsung to stop duplicating apps and services that Google already provides. Samsung had developed its own S Voice app that was a voice command based assistant like Google’s voice search and was also creating its own app store.
To resolve the issues, the two companies entered into a wide ranging patent sharing agreement among other things, which could have also included Google’s support to Samsung against numerous patent infringement lawsuits it was involved in with Apple.
But now Google has found a new bone of contention against Samsung – its range of Gear smartwatches that run on Samsung’s own software platform, The Information reports. A few months before Google announced its first Android Wear smartwatches, Samsung released three wearable devices, including two smartwatches running on Tizen and a thin smartband. Samsung was one of the launch partners for Android Wear and its Gear Live smartwatch debuted alongside LG’s G Watch at last month’s I/O conference.
According to the report, Google CEO Larry Page was frustrated with Samsung investing more resources on smartwatches running its Tizen operating system than on Google’s Android Wear. Page reportedly made his frustration clear to Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y Lee during a “tense” private meeting at the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley.
Samsung finds itself in a tough spot as it has not been able to find a viable alternative to Google’s Android platform. With its smartphone profits shrinking and increased competition from Chinese smartphone vendors at the low-end and Apple at the high-end. Samsung had attempted to develop a competing operating system in the form of Tizen but it has not been received well by either carriers or developers. Smartphones running on Tizen have faced multiple delays and the latest buzz suggests the first device — Samsung Z — might now be released only next year.
Without an alternative core platform or its own range of services, Samsung doesn’t possess a leverage against Google. At the same time, Google too is tightening its screws with programs like Android One that would give local smartphone vendors in India a competitive advantage in the sub-$200 segment and Android Silver that will arm rivals like HTC and LG to compete better against Samsung.