25 Comments

Summary:

Samsung, which has rode Android to success with the Galaxy S, is reportedly shifting its focus to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 in 2011. According to iMobile.cn, 63 percent of smartphones built by Samsung will be WP7 devices, followed by Android at 32 percent.

samsungwp7

Samsung, which has ridden Android to success with the Galaxy S, is reportedly shifting its focus to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 in 2011. According to a report in iMobile.cn, 63 percent of smartphones built by Samsung will be WP7 devices, followed by Android at 32 percent and its own Bada OS at 6 percent. This follows on a report last week that Samsung was internally focusing on WP7.

Just a few months ago, Samsung said it was “prioritizing” on Android, which made sense considering it was on the way to selling 5 million Galaxy S units. But with the launch of Windows Phone 7, has come out in support of Microsoft, and generally has one of the best WP7 devices available in the Focus.

So if the latest reports are true, why would Samsung prioritize its resources on Windows Phone 7?  I have to wonder if there’s a little Android fatigue in the ecosystem. With so many smartphone makers now in the market for Android devices, it might make sense for a company like Samsung to look for new opportunities. We know the smartphone market is expanding greatly, with a majority of phone customers expected to have a smartphone by next year. For handset makers, pinning their development plans on one platform while most every other manufacturer does the same may just be increasingly tough sledding. It doesn’t mean Samsung gives up on Android; it just keeps its options open.

Looking at Windows Phone 7, one wouldn’t expect it to command so much attention from Samsung right away. It has very little currently-installed base and it’s unclear what the worldwide appetite is for the OS. (Gartner forecasts WP7 with just a 4 percent marketshare in 2014) Microsoft is more restrictive on handset manufacturers so they can’t add the kinds of custom interfaces like TouchWiz which can differentiate one manufacturer’s handset from another. And WP7 requires a licensing fee, something Android’s OS doesn’t have. Also, it’s unclear why Samsung would so clearly favor WP7 over its own proprietary OS Bada, which actually seems to be selling well.

Samsung has gotten an intimate look at the OS and may be impressed with its prospects. Or, it may be convinced that Microsoft is going to spend big on the platform for some time, just like it willed the Xbox 360 to success. The legal uncertainty around Android could also be playing a small role. Or it just may be that Samsung sees less of a scrum of manufacturers hovering around WP7 and understands this is a chance to ride it to potential success, while still supporting Android.

I wouldn’t make too much of reports that Android losing support. The platform is still taking off in a big way, and all indications seem to suggest it should be a top seller and could potentially topple Symbian in a few years. But even with that promise, it’s not the only source of growth in the market. All the platforms are still growing, and faded OS makers like Microsoft have a chance to really pick up the pace again if they execute. It just reminds me again that while we like to talk about the ascendence of Android or the strength of iOS, it’s still early in this smartphone race. Yes, a lot of sales trends already seem to be in place but considering the iPhone and Android devices have only been with us for the last three years, there’s room for more changes in the next three years. Maybe this is what Samsung is saying with its reported interest in Windows Phone 7.

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  1. Yeah, I’m sure they’re just worn out counting all that money from the first week of Galaxy Tab sales in the U.S.

    1. The Galaxy Tab has been good for sales. But this is reportedly about Samsung’s smartphone plans.

    2. It should be noted that the 600,000 sales it’s talking about are worldwide, not just in the US. And that’s first month, not first week.

  2. Dominiek ter Heide Monday, November 22, 2010

    Hey Ryan,

    I think it’s important to note that South Korea has always had a very tight, and perhaps unhealthy, relationship with Microsoft. I would not be surprised if high-level Chaebol (South Korean Conglomerate)- politics had something to do with this.

    About South Korea’s ‘dependency’ on Microsoft – http://news.cnet.com/About-South-Koreas-dependency-on-Microsoft/2010-1014_3-6153862.html

    Mozilla warns of ‘Microsoft monoculture’ in South Korea – http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/24/firefox_mozilla_south_korea_microsoft_despot/

  3. I personally would love nothing more than this rumor to be true, but logically it doesn’t make sense. As far as I know, Samsung has been very successul with their Android offerings. Why would they shift gears so dramatically? There are lots of reasons this COULD happen, but most of them seem rather unlikely.

  4. Frank Sydenham Monday, November 22, 2010

    The original report, which came from a Chinese website, does not appear to be accurate.

    That’s the most likely explanation: The Chinese story is simply wrong.

    Windows Phone 7 is a worry, as it has got off to a very slow start, with sales much lower than expected.

  5. I don’t think this is “Android fatigue” so much. Samsung has established itself as a top Android maker and Galaxy is making them money. Since Windows Phone is a decent OS and Microsoft is backing it with big money, why not jump on this platform and ride it. Seems like more upside than downside. Plus, it’s in the handset maker’s best interests to have more than one dominant OS. My thoughts, at least.

  6. I can see them doing some WP7 phones but they are getting pretty close to the point of diminishing returns with Android, WP7 and Bada. Bada is pretty good for what it is, which is ultimately a betamax niche offering of the sort that Sony was good at. Android would be far better on Samsung if they would only stop molesting the OS. This would do two things, one stop them from mucking up a good OS and it would also make it such that their devices would be upgradable shortly after Google released a new flavor of Android. In my case I am still waiting for 2.2 to come for my Samsung Epic and I am really looking forward to being able to search the company GAL when doing email not to mention bugs like GPS not working or the phone periodically deleting all of my email and account settings. WM7? Hope to see some good things but in ways that platform is looking a little too closed/controlled.

  7. That Android is free is a half-truth that continues to be reported incorrectly. They still have to license the marquee Google apps for Android. Do you really think someone is going to ship an Android phone without Google Maps?

  8. Or perhaps Microsoft has threatened Samsung with a lawsuit if they don’t ship a full complement of Windows phones. Motorola said no, and MSFT sued.

    1. Motorola has sued microsoft back, they both have tons of patents and motorola has probably better ones because it is hardware

  9. Ryan,

    Did anyone actually read the original article? The person being quoted is from the Samsung Thailand subsidiary. Even if he was referring to more than the Thailandnese market, he hardly speaks for Samsung Korea.

  10. no gamblers here play roulette?

    its called hedging your bets … simple

  11. Samsung is sensible. It knows that the smartphone market isn’t going to be like the PC market, and it’s not going to fall into a Highlander Scenario (“there can be only one…”).

    Different OS’s are going to appeal to different demographics.

  12. Here is a crazy idea: maybe Samsung’s WP7 devices are selling much better than expected, and Samsung sees MS’ more disciplined approach to growing its ecosystem, having a greater chance of success than Google’s. We have one unconfirmed report that MS sold 40K WP7 handsets one of the slowest sales day of the week, vs. AT&T and T-Mobile saying that they are happy with WP7 sales, and Steve Ballmer saying that WP7 phones are selling well. Why does everyone prefer to think the worst about WP7? We’ve also heard about initial worldwide shortages of WP7 handsets, and so many people find it difficult to fathom that Samsung sees signs that WP7 has greater sales potential than Android? Amazing!

  13. Weird, it turns out that “fatigue” = “hot”.

  14. I don’t think its true.
    Most analysts see bad omens with WP7 – its an insufficient platform which everyone on this blog would never trade for their Android or iJobs. Its nice to talk about new technology but there is no way people will adopt that. ONLY in maybe 12 months will the platform mature. Samsung will loose the edge by then if not pressing hard.
    They are supposed to be the Nexus 2 / S whatever providers. 4.5″ 1.2-1.5Ghz flagship. Come’on – its must be a joke this news bit.

    1. It all depends on if Microsoft can iterate fast enough, I believe they have the correct approach angle of multiple OEMs, controlled interface. They will have spend themselves into a crazy hole first though. Android is certainly the hot commodity, but their UI is still rough around the edges, and Google still is a source of privacy nervousness(check Gawker feeds). If Microsoft can only navigate the waters between Apple and Google… btw go WebOS:)

  15. I got the HTC HD7, and its honestly the best phone that Ive ever seen. Sure I could use a battery percent gauge, my b&n book reader app from the hd2 and to a lesser extent cut and paste. But Im sure within the next couple months they will all be there. This phone meets and excedes what I was hoping for.

  16. The author has guessed all assumptions on this rather surprising news which originated from dubious sources. On Samsung’s part, this move could be what is proverbially called ‘shooting ones own foot’.

  17. This makes perfect sense. They can dominate WP7 market since there is no Motorola et al to compete with. Samsung will still make Android phones, but they want to flood WP7 market early on all carriers. Anybody on this board who thinks they can predict WP7 failure after two weeks is blowing smoke.

  18. No Android Fatigue. What we got here fellers is an old-fashioned kickback or some kinda under-the-table payment by the boys in Redmond. It really is that simple. Micro$oft dropped some serious coin on the Koreans to make this happen most assuredly. :-)

  19. Android’s anchor and saving grace is its fragmentation. The more it improves and renders older hardware obsolete, the more likely OEM’s are to stay in the Android game, unless Google drastically pisses someone off. But until Google either pulls a Microsoft and closes the fragmentation gap, Samsung isn’t going anywhere and it can only go so far with Windows Phone.

  20. I like the comment “faded OS Makers like Microsoft” try to keep your incorect personal Bias out of your articles and try to stick to some facts.
    As for Samsung, if they decide to prioritize Windows phone 7 over Android, its really their prerogative, I’m sure Samsung has more incite into it’s buisness decisions than any of us do.

  21. Doesn’t surprise me since Android is a giant pile of you know what. It’s hideous, choppy, laggy, overly complicated, and fragmented mess. Even on lesser hardware, WP7 still outperforms is by a mile, and this was proven by a comparion of a Focus and Motorola Atrix. I can’t imagine why anyone would put up with the crap the crap they have to in Android. Some people have no taste.

    As for WP7, when it reaches feature parity, it will literally destroy Android as an elegant, intuitive, fast, butter smooth, and easy OS. Not necessarily in terms of sales, but in terms of the actual OS. Then again, I can’t imagine why anyone was stupid enough to think WP7 would dominate right out of the box, especially considering it’s two years late. This will be a slow burn for Microsoft, and that’s because they ignored the market too long.

    “Most analysts see bad omens with WP7 – its an insufficient platform which everyone on this blog would never trade for their Android or iJobs. Its nice to talk about new technology but there is no way people will adopt that.”

    A monumentally idiotic statement. Care to provide me with sources to back this up Android sycophant? Please, don’t link me to Gartner. The guy’s an idiot and has been wrong more times than I care to mention.

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