Why Samsung was right not to buy Android

Fred Vogelstein’s book Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution is not only an interesting read – its content has been insightful enough to create a number of headlines. The latest story to emerge from Vogelstein’s work relates to Samsung having an opportunity to buy Android in late 2004, only to turn down the chance.

Eager to secure investment in order to further the development of his operating system, Android Inc. co-founder Andy Rubin made a speculative visit to Seoul, South Korea, accompanied by his small team. Despite Rubin’s enthusiasm, Samsung apparently did not take the small operation seriously.

“’You and what army are going to go and create this? You have six people. Are you high?’ is basically what they said. They laughed me out of the boardroom,” Rubin recalled. “This happened two weeks before Google acquired us.”

There will be some who claim that missing out on acquiring Android was a major error by Samsung. The electronics giant now dominates the Android market, but has little control over the platform that has proven to be the basis for its success.

Samsung is currently developing its own open source mobile OS in the shape of Tizen. Early evidence is not exactly encouraging, though, with the new platform appearing to have significant work required before it can challenge to now-mature proposition of Android.

Tizen is not the only example of Samsung creating a mobile OS. Previously there was Bada OS, the development of which was discontinued, after it failed to make a significant impact on the market.

So even if Samsung had purchased Android, there are certainly no guarantees that it would have gone on to become the rip-roaring success it has under Google’s stewardship.

A major reason why Android now dominates the mobile market is the business model that Google has adopted. Although the search engine giant does release its own Nexus-branded devices, it has no problem with rival manufacturers competing against Nexus phones and tablets.

For Google, the target has always been market share. They give away Android to manufacturers in order to ensure mass adoption of their services, like Gmail and Google Maps.

Samsung has no track record of creating a strong portfolio of services, and would likely have had to partner with a company like Google, had it purchased Android. There would also have been an obvious conflict if Samsung was competing for sales against companies that were using an OS it was financing the development of.

In other words, even if Samsung had bought Android, it could not have adopted the business model that has lead to the OS becoming so successful. And without a compelling platform, Samsung would have been unlikely to go on to become the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer.

[via BGR]

Image credit: samsungtomorrow