‘Galaxy’ to become equivalent for ‘Android’ in the future?

February 4, 2013
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We keep talking about the Android and iOS duopoly that’s currently landscaping the mobile business, with everyone else trying to compete for third spot and “also ran” positions when it comes to market and mind shares, not to mention profits.

But is Google’s Android in any danger to becoming synonymous with Galaxy in the future? Is “Galaxy” going to be a problem for Google?

In a blog post titled “Galaxy versus Android at the Superbowl [sic],” Ben Evans looks at the current search trends when it comes to mobile devices and points us to an interesting thing when looking at web searches from 2004 until present, which made us ask the previous questions in the future.

Search interest

The “Galaxy” brand has been slowly growing over the last three years, and it’s currently at about the same levels as “Android,” when it comes to searches. Other products still rank higher than Android in that chart, such as “iPhone” and “Samsung,” while “Samsung Galaxy” is also on the rise – at about half the interest of Android.

So one could conclude that, overall, there are currently more searches for “Samsung,” “Galaxy” or “Samsung Galaxy” then there are for “Android.” Of course, that isn’t that surprising considering that Samsung pretty much owns the Android ecosystem when it comes to market share and profits, with the likes of HTC and LG struggling to turn back to growth and turning a minuscule profit for 2012 compared to Samsung, respectively.

Looking at the same search keywords for the U.S. alone you’ll see a more prominent “iPhone” domination, but “Android,” “Samsung,” “Galaxy” are still at the same interest levels.

Awareness and fairness

Moreover, the same report remarks that Samsung has not even used “Android” in its most recent TV ads – the Super Bowl commercials which we have already shown you here, here and here. Is Samsung doing it intentionally to highlight hardware features, which are proprietary, rather then insisting on its own UI software features – something it has done in previous ads – or on Android OS?

From a different point of view, we could conclude that Samsung is rather more interested in turning its ads into viral videos that are seen by plenty of potential customers. And they don’t necessarily need to mention Android in the process. After all, its recent ads have taken the number spot in the most viral tech ads top.

Should Google raise the “Android” awareness among potential buyers? Not necessarily. Or at least, as long as its OS sells and Google gets to be king of the mobile OS business, and in the process to take a serious chunk of mobile ads and respective profits, it doesn’t matter that much whether customers start confusing Android with Galaxy, right?

But while Google may not be interested in this issue – is it really an issue? – other Google partners may suffer financially from such confusion, and that’s something Google wouldn’t want. After all, the more companies are successfully selling Android smartphones and tablets, the more Google has to gain from it. But that can’t be done if Samsung is getting more and more Android sales quarter after quarter. Not everyone can profit at the same time.

At the end of the day, it’s all business and Samsung is where it’s at now in the mobile world because it realized early on that it needs an iPhone competitor as fast as possible – whether an iPhone copy or not – and that it needs a strong mobile brand to fight the iPhone as soon as possible.

The Galaxy S was the device that made it all possible, a handset that brought a plethora of lawsuits from the competition but also helped Samsung use Android to become the most important Android OS maker out there, with the Galaxy brand growing in the process.

Is it fair to Google? Well, all of this is business so it’s never fair. One could argue that Google’s decision to release last year mid- to high-end Nexus devices priced at low- to mid-range points wasn’t fair either when looking at all the Android OEMs out there that can only make money off of hardware sales and don’t have a Google Play Store ecosystem alternative to provide extra revenue from devices sold essentially at cost.

But then Google was forced to take this road by Amazon, which released its own Android-based tablet in late 2011, a device that ran a forked Android version completely stripped of any Google services, Play Store included. And Amazon too doesn’t stress too much – read at all – about the underlying OS on its Kindle Fire in marketing materials, but then again, Amazon is not a Google partner in the way Samsung is.

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All that happened at a time in which Google could not afford to lose the tablet wars to Apple, but neither could it allow Amazon to steal tablet market share from other OEMs with an Android variation that brought little-to-no profit to the Search giant.

In the future, things could get more complex once Google starts releasing more (cheap but performing?) mobile hardware of its own, made in-house by Motorola, a move that would certainly annoy the likes of Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony and others, even if nobody would say so openly.

So the mobile business, and any business for that matter, can’t exactly be described as a fairness-dominated environment. No matter what their motto is, each company will do whatever it needs to in order to keep profits coming in while keeping customers and shareholders happy.

We shouldn’t be surprised to see both Google and Samsung heavily promote its own brands, no matter what their business relationship is.

Nexus vs Android vs Galaxy

A while ago we showed you what the differences between Nexus and Android devices are, highlighting the fact that no matter what device you choose between a Nexus and an Android you still get an Android handset.

Considering the search interest graphs that we have just been shown, will we reach a point where users that aren’t as interested in keeping up with tech news, as we and some of our readers are, will start confusing these three brands and not realize that all three keywords describe essentially the same mobile ecosystem? Will that be a problem for Google moving forward?

What if Samsung decides of all of a sudden to drop Google Android, for whatever reason, in the not-so-foreseeable future, and have future Galaxy devices run Samsung’s own OS. Would those consumers confusing Galaxy with Android and searching for “Galaxy” when buying mobile devices continue to buy them even if they wouldn’t be running Android anymore?

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Whatever you’re searching for when looking to buy a new Android smartphone or tablet, you should definitely check out Android Authority for more detailed coverage of your chosen device, whether it’s a Galaxy or a different Android.

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