Samsung forgot something last night

by: Nate SwannerMarch 15, 2013

samsung galaxy S4 logo aa 600

Whether you loved or hated last night’s Galaxy S4 unboxing, it was memorable. It was also, as our host mentioned, not a normal product launch event. Actors, pop-up stages, an orchestra… it was a scene, no doubt. With all the showcasing of the new Galaxy phone, one thing was lost. Samsung neglected one little detail that made a big impression on some.

They didn’t mention Android.

Save for using it to bolster the security of their Knox feature, Samsung made absolutely no mention of Android. We’ve mentioned time and again that Samsung is growing increasingly separate from Android, which probably puts Google on notice that they should take Samsung as a threat. This is not a Tizen debate (yet), but the omission of Android from the presentation is telling.

What we can learn from that sleight is that Samsung sees Android as little more than a means to their end. To Samsung, the device and what they add on to it matters, not Android. It comes with the latest version of Jelly Bean, so the S4 is not behind by any means. Still, no mention of Android.



The Samsung Galaxy S4 has a bevy of features that could make even the most tech savvy person giddy. The “unpacking” event gave us feature after feature of new, exciting stuff to do with our device. Then again, quite a bit of their “innovation” is already present in Android. Why, if not to become increasingly proprietary, would Samsung do such a thing as mimic a service present in Android? Why cannibalize what is already present if not to make it your own?

Samsung comprises a lot of overall Android sales, which seems to have both a positive and negative affect. Android is enjoying success due to Samsung’s efforts, but also seems to be suffering their efforts to be proprietary. It’s a strange catch 22, and in a way… Google asked for it. By making Android open source, you expose yourself to these types of things. The most distinct example is Amazon, who seems to treat Android just as Android treats Linux.

Samsung is right

Is Samsung wrong? Should we goad them into guilt for all this? Not for a minute. Samsung is a runaway train on the Android railway, but they’re the masters of their own fate. We can’t rightly say what direction Android will take, much less whether or not Samsung is right or wrong. What we can take away from this is that Google is right to protect themselves.

The acquisition of Motorola was a smart one for Google, and probably had more than a little to do with Samsung. That thermonuclear war we’re so fond of bringing up was maybe closer to home that anyone realized. Samsung is pulling away from Android, ever so slowly, every time they “innovate”. Each new service cannibalized represents another step away from center, and while Google is probably concerned with that, they now have a little more control. In Motorola, they control the supply chain. In an odd twist of fate, Google has become the Samsung of the future much faster than Samsung could make themselves a Google copycat.

Samsung Galaxy S4 cover 2 aa 600

The gap widens

Whatever you want to call it… copying, cannibalizing, stealing… those services Samsung borrows from Android are a means to break away and build their own ecosystem. That’s a tall order, and one which may not pay dividends as they hope. Breaking into a world with such established entities like Android or iOS is tough. From a business perspective, it makes sense: control the consumption flow, control the cash flow. If Samsung can get users to shop with them rather than at the Play Store, they’ve capitalized on an opportunity. It’s an understandable move, but perhaps a misguided one. Even if done within Android, it’s not an easy task.

Samsung will bring up that they’re on good footing with Google, and I don’t doubt that is what they believe. Both have a vested interest in one another, and want the other to succeed… right now. There will be a few major tells to let us know if the Samsung-Google partnership is in trouble. If Samsung ever omits the Play Store from its device, we’ll know the party is over. What is on offer right now from Samsung is curious, but not yet dangerous to Google.

Tizen or bust?

While this isn’t a Tizen issue, Tizen still presents a problem. Samsung may view Their new OS as their trump card, but it’s also a card Google could play first. The terms of membership in the Open Handset Alliance may be troublesome down the line for Samsung. With their involvement in Tizen, Samsung may be encroaching on some Android territory. There is no reason, currently, for Google to exercise their right to threaten any sanctions against Samsung. There is a precedent for that, but when two companies get to this level, things aren’t so cut and dry. Both have far too much wrapped up in one another, so simply threatening to cut the cord is a tenuous option.


System of control

Each time Samsung “innovates”, something becomes clear: Android is their stage, but they think their talent is what people come to see. They may be right, but should tread lightly. Samsung is doing a bang-up job of delivering on great products that have some awesome function built in. Nobody is going to argue that they have some cool features, but that’s not the issue. The issue is the only thing that really matters… Android.

Without an operating system, the device is nothing. We’re not saying Samsung should have made the entire presentation about how awesome Android is, but a simple mention of the operating system and how the Galaxy S4 will enhance it would have been in good taste, if they are indeed on good terms with Google. The open source nature of Android is asking that you take advantage of it, but Samsung is taking it a little too far.

  • Neil Lund

    If they left out Android yesterday, then how do we all know the SGS4 will be launched with 4.2.2? They did mention Android after all. Also they did leave out a lot of other important things yesterday. So to assume anything of the sort that leans toward Samsung moving away from Android isn’t an educated assumption.

    • Andrew Baxendale

      No, they did not once mention Android. I watched the whole thing and cannot recall the word being used. The reason people know is because of the tech journalists looking at the information.

      • taz89

        It was on the massive screen, what did you want them to say considering its not a stock phone…

        • steve

          plus the world knew what it would be running before the event i might add



      • Zorbit

        They did mention android 4.2.2. It was with other specs listed at end of the livestream.

      • daknarr

        Yes, you re correct. I think people are missing the point of the article. Samsung is in partership with Android, and we all know that. This launch party was qawdy, and over the top. In being so publicly presented, for Samsung not to have tauted Android as well as their own hardware is a slight. Yes there is an assumption (and a correct one) that if it is a Samsung Galaxy device, it will run Android, but the abcence of the SPECIFIC mention of Android by name (and not assumption) speaks volumes.

  • Sal

    In my thought, Samsung would never grow apart from Android. Without samsung’s galaxy s series android probably wouldn’t be at all attractive and exciting but when Samsung launched the galaxy s in 2010 the android ecosystem is booming and knocking off apple as the worlds most advanced mobile os. So Samsung stick to Android even though I know you won’t.

    • Bone

      On the other hand if they get Tizen right, with no mention of Android anyway I don’t see many problems selling the next Galaxy with Tizen under the hood. Samsung has it all to break off, complete SW set now including some Google-like stuff, and the HW to be able to emulate Android apps if necessary plus handle all these gadget things.

      If you could keep all Galaxy SIV functions AND sideload Android apps, wouldn’t you consider switching to a faster, simpler, energy efficient gesture-interface OS that ditches boring home screens and widgets to handle everything on lock screen?

      • Sal

        i guess Samsung wouldn’t all be bad if they successfully get some material done right with Tizen but for the most part they wouldn’t leave Android cause otherwise Android wouldn’t be the way it is today. Though I agree that i would switch to something refreshing for a change.

      • CyBrix_21

        It is hard to say those things for now… Android has many stuffs that makes it famous… And it is still upgrading…

        With different manufacturers that will still make Android products, it will be hard for Samsung to just kick Android to their devices…

        They can do that, but they must be sure that they will make Tizen as good as Android…

  • Bone

    No S-Watch either.

  • chanman

    IMO for the tech savvy consumer, which would be the type of people who pay attention to events like Samsung unpacked, would already be so aware of android 4.2 that to rehash it so much would be repetitious and pointless, and then lead to the charge that they hadn’t had enough of their own innovation to talk about, so they had to use filler.

  • Bennett Todd

    I really like my Galaxy Nexus.
    If I had to replace it tomorrow, it’d be with a Nexus 4.
    If Samsung makes another world beating Nexus device, I might be tempted, depending on what other Nexus devices are out there.

  • Norwegian get 4G modell of this phone! 1,9 Quad Core and here is the list of shops which provide pre-order allready:

    • hassan

      hey dude in norway is there quad one or octo one in site that you had shared is showing octo core one….?
      how much price it will be in U.S dollar can you tell me ?

      • It comes with Quad Core according to Samsung Norway. The price will be around 900 US dollar, but its only pre-order now. I’m sure the price will fall after some weeks or months same like SGS3.
        I got my Nexus 4 same same day it arrived on online shop and after one month the price got reduce and i regret. If it comes with Quad Core i wont change it to S4. My Nexus 4 still rocks!

  • taz89

    They mentioned its an android 4.2.2…what else were they meant to mention considering its not stock android…HTC did the same with the one and there was no story on that.

  • Mike Bastable

    Yesterday made it pretty clear that Android is merely the under carriage upon which Samsung puts its own samsung specific software. This is going to end badly for Google. Tizen is intended as a replacement for Android…pretty short term. Probably on the next galaxy. That is why there was no mention of Android. A dry run for next year…
    Google needs to tighten the terms for Android…compulsory updates, actual use of the os interface with minimal alterations. All banner applications to be cross device after 12 months.
    This will stimulate innovation and reign in Samsung at the same time.
    Belive me we are a few months away from Tizen Authority….

    • CyBrix_21

      There are still many manufacturers that will save Android…

      Samsung is the one who must be careful… If it can’t deliver its system properly, then it will be a problem…

      • Mike Bastable

        I agree about the rest but tje discussion was about Samsung

    • Ivan Myring

      No it won’t be on the next galaxy, galaxy firmly means android. Why do you think the windows phone phones are called ATIV? Tizen will also have very few apps, and is primarily designed for south asia. Few devs will build apps for it, if all it runs on is one Samsung and a few huaweis and Fujitsu’s as they will have to make it work for all and it will initially sell in a small number

      • Mike Bastable

        Sorry i disagree..the Galaxy line was launched on the back of Android and also by copying the iphone…Samsung is certainly distancing itself from identifying it products as Android that is why they literally spent billions making the Galaxy name well known. Samsung wants to rival Apple…
        Bada was warming up, a toe in the water. Tizen will be the real thing and Samsung is busy getting its customer base used to its own unique apps whilst using its own Samsung store to build a relationship with the app developers: so Tizen WILL have apps.
        THe next year os the real test for Google…no thermonuclear war from Apple, but the beginnings of a guerilla wat of attrition by the rebels: Tizen, Ubuntu, Firefox, Jolla, windows and Blackberry. Some will perish but it will be interesting to see how Android and Google will cope.
        The Nexus strategy just confirms my thoughts…the maginot line for Google

        • Ivan Myring

          Samsung apps only has apps because all the dev has to do is give Samsung the APK. For the new platform a new app design would need to be used and the apps would have to be rebuilt in new code. If they could just run the APK then Google would get pretty pissed off for forking android and violating the terms of the OHA.

          • Mike Bastable

            Sammy apps generates unique to sammy traffic thus helping sammy. Assert that there is interest in samsung apps thus assisting in getting apps ported ormade for its own platform. My point is look at the whole picture not just small details folks

  • riceryder

    Seriously? I don’t think people need to be reminded that it’s an Android.

  • Ryu Ronquillo

    This article makes me hate this website now. That spec screen at the end was their for a long time. It does not have to be in spoken word since it’s obvious that if you can use a phone, you can read. And we read that it will come out in 4.2.2 JB.

    There was no mention of the two chipset, even on the end screen. Any article on that???

  • gaffewa

    Uhm why would they have to mention Android? It’s not like they are using 4.2.3 or something…

    • Ivan Myring

      What if they are….. And its tizen?

      • CyBrix_21

        Many know that it uses Android… We don’t know, it will possess Android 4.2.3 out of the box when it is available…

        It is mentioned in the end that it uses Android 4.2.2…

        • Ivan Myring

          I know I was just trolling a bit

          • CyBrix_21

            Hahahaha… ok…

  • Austin Wang

    No matter how good Tizen turns out to be (it looks pretty ugly at this point), going from 800,000 apps to virtually zero will alienate countless users

  • i dont thing it was neccesary, because it was obvious, when they showed the notification bar it was obvious that it was an adroid device, you need to know and we all know that all Galaxy series devices are android based

  • Bruce Gavin Ward

    and inversely, when keyLimePie hits the nexus 4, 7, 10, [“X”] the Galaxy S4 becomes an old clunker! [why would they want to dwell on “Android”?

  • yo69

    i don’t blame Samsung for wanting to distance them selves from Android. they were disrespected by Android by using Asus after Samsung put Android on the map and gave crapple a good spanking. also, im really looking forward to Tizen as im an open source type so…

    • CyBrix_21

      Android is already like that since day one…

      They are still partners… In fact, they have Samsung Google Nexus 10…

      It is just the Nexus 7 that became famous… It is not Android’s fault…

      That is business… Google partners with different manufacturers to make different products…

  • twisted247

    The biggest thing i noticed that wasn’t covered At ALL, Processor(s)

    • I agree. At first I thought that it’s not a big deal since they even left out the processor on the launch event, but then I realized that Samsung is just trying not to draw attention to the fact that their largest market (North America) is getting shafted with a second-choice processor. Granted it’s for legitimate reasons, but to completely avoid the issue is only 1 step down from outright saying “it has an 8 core processor” and leave the North Americans with false hope.

  • Mike Reid

    I agree that this was completely on purpose and intended to promote Samsung only, not Samsung partnered with Google/Android. And certainly connected with the Tizen threats being used as leverage in negotiations.

    But it’s fair business. If Google doesn’t advertise Samsung for free, why should Samsung advertise for Google for free ?

    • V-Phuc

      @ Mike,
      To be fair to Google, since it’s essentially an OS platform used by many phone companies, how can it advertise one w/o making the others felt neglected? And how to include all the companies out there using Android platform w/in a 30 second advertisement or in a billboard? Conversely, I believe everyone knows that Samsung phones use Android OS, and they also stated it their specs. The spotlight at the launch was on the phone as it should be, unless Key Lime Pie was also released on the same day and installed on SG4, which is not the case here. All in all, silly article by Nate, making dust fly where there is none!

  • Pete

    Samesung’s Wallet app is clearly copied from the iOS Passbook app.

  • Android Authority is really hung up on this notion that Google and Samsung are frenemies.

    • Ivan Myring

      “I have a word for them…. I call them frenimies.”
      I remember seeing that, what was it on? I cant think

  • Roberto Tomás

    I think the “duplicated features” are a real move towards an even healthier Android. Many of those features are tied unceremoniously to Google, and this threatens to make Android the product of one company rather than a general use operating system.
    Companies offering alternatives to parts of android that are really anti-competitive in spirit, even if not in practice, only strengthen Android itself. So, way to go Samsung!

  • frnsyskw

    If they did not mention Android at all, no problem S4 is an Android device, if Nokia will take Android as a SO, probably Nokia will improve their sells

  • Gabriel Sorin Beldie

    Nice article. Indeed Samsung starts to distance itself from the Android core. If we will not have an all-out (no lawsuits etc.) war between Google and Samsung and HTC, I thing that a certain level of competition will be beneficial for the Android ecosystem.

    However, certain new features in the S4 might be purely on the hardware level. I am talking here about the S-pen like finger hover functionality (which is especially useful when swiping between screens, preview albums, etc). This is not something that you can add with a software update.

    So, I am now considering either the Note 2, or the new S4 as serious upgrade for my GNex.

  • brady

    man what kinda stuff

  • Michael Grabowski

    This is dumb, it’s like someone (Google) giving a bunch of people wood to build a house for free, and then other people getting mad when they don’t mention where they got the building materials. You don’t marvel a clay manufacturer for a nice statue, you marvel the sculptor.

  • CrAppleJinxer

    Are you kidding me? This a very lame assumption about a company that is the highest prized member of OHA with a direct co-operative connection to Google and Apple’s Lawsuits against both of them!

    Just another attempt to dig up some kind of a feud between them that doesn’t exist. The reality is Samsung has multiple options they intend to keep open for OS platforms, they intend to keep supporting in the future including Android. They use whatever is selling because they’re smarter than YOU…. Nate Swanner!!! ;-p

  • AverageUser

    Wait the S4 is going to use android I thought they where going to use ISO 6.1.3.

    • Jared

      It is pretty much iOS 6.1.3 according to Apple ;-)

  • V-Phuc

    Nate, give it a rest, would you? All that tension between Samsung and Google (Android) may be the product of your imagination. I don’t remember you or any other writers on AA gripe about it at HTC, LG, or other company’s launch. So why so much hate to Samsung? When the day that Samsung TRULY (and I mean, truly) breaks away from Android, then we as consumers will deal with it, until then… why not for now talk about great SG4 and Android together make a beautiful tool for all of us?!

  • what the hale is this did htc mention android during there launch of htc
    one they didnot make any emphasis so why crucify samsung while other
    players are doing the same