Is Samsung’s dominance a good thing or a bad thing for Android users

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   For the hardcore fans of android we want Google (Pixel) to be the dominant android device. That would highlight the full capabilities of what the Android software (in its purest essence) can do. From the Nexus 6 on, Google has finally gotten a firm grip on the Android software to where we are experiencing the smoothest experience possible on an android device. Yeah it lacks all the bells and whistles that other android device manufacturers have had since the dawn of android (theme manager), but there is no better software experience for android out there.

Where Google makes up in software they lack in hardware innovations. I spoke heavily about my disappointment in the first Google Pixel because where other manufacturers (including Apple) was featuring water resistance and less bezel, the first generation Pixel felt like a blast from the past.

Now others gave Google a pass because they were late in the release process and had to rely on a recycled HTC phone, but Google managed to put out another full bezel phone in the Pixel 2.

If it was not for Samsung there are a lot of smartphone features and tech that would still be left out of phones today. May we remember the criticism they took for the  original Note. The gamble on a “giant” phone paid off and ushered in the era of the “phablet”. Now the same manufacturers talking noise then have a phablet of their own now (here’s looking at you Apple).

Though Samsung is not the only manufacturer taking risks, they are striking in ways that are constantly changing the smartphone industry. And for this I commend what Samsung continues to do. Though I personally resent Touchwiz for its drain on the software causing occasional slowdowns, and Samsung’s lack of desire to update their phones in a timely manner, you can’t overlook Samsung’s influence on the industry as a whole.

The question is it a good thing that Samsung continues to dominate the smartphone industry?

The pros of Samsung dominating the smartphone industry I listed above. People gravitate to a lot of what Samsung put out every year. Though I picked at Samsung’s software, they are not all bad. Samsung Pay is by far one of the best pay apps out there. And there are some other software tweaks, especially on the Note line, that blows the next best option on the play store out of the water. Samsung leading the industry means that it is forcing manufacturers to step their hardware game up, including Google.

The con to Samsung leading the market is that you are not getting Google’s best software experience. One of the pros to owning an iPhone is the support for the phone for years from Apple. Apple do not allow carriers to change the experience of the device by holding updates or loading the phone with uninstallable apps that clog up resources.

The android experience on the Pixel phones are the equivalent to what Apple users experience on their iPhones. The latest updates, smoothest experience, best performance, and now with the industry’s leading cameras, Pixel users are getting a near perfect android experience (“keyword here is near”).

Because Samsung do not update their phones in a timely manner and load up the software with their own, users are not able to get the full benefits of the android experience from Google. Because of that having Samsung lead the pack is leading the industry in a direction that is allowing companies to get away with mediocre software support, a neutered android experience (thanks the the interference of hardware manufacturers and carriers), and a feeling that phones are “suppose to slow down with age (similar to computers)”.  Yes this benefits the carriers and the hardware manufacturers as it will increase the frequency of upgrades, but it hurts the overall user experience.

It is time for Google to take the lead. But what is keeping them from leaving the realm of “near perfect” to entering the realm of “perfect” android experience is hardware. Google is still content with being on par and not with being a leader in the hardware game. They have already taken that mindset with software but have slowed that mindset with hardware since the Nexus One. Some would say it is purposely done to keep from offending their hardware partners. But I think it is more than that.

Google (now Alphabet) have shareholders to answer to. And they are in the business of making a profit. At the rate in which hardware changes they may be taking the approach of Apple and allowing the Samsung’s of the world to take that hit with the hardware experiments.  If it fails then they study what worked and what didn’t. If it becomes a hit then they will jump on the trend when the supplies are more plentiful and cheaper making the cost of the phone comparable but manageable for customers. With consumers grumbling about the thousand dollar phones, Google will take more of a loss for putting out a thousand dollar phone than Samsung or Apple. As the masses tend to go either Samsung or Apple as they are the more popular phone choices out there.

So I guess we are going to have to accept the fact that Samsung continues to lead the pack for android hardware manufacturers. With HTC in a continuing free fall, Lenovo owned Motorola continuing to hover around the middle of the pack, and the rest of the manufacturers fighting for the crumbs, there is no other android hardware manufacturer that appears able to compete with Samsung on the hardware front. They don’t have the capital to be able to fund the R&D that Samsung can. And no other manufacturer can survive a hiccup that Samsung experienced in the Note 7 (except maybe Apple).

So what I am getting at is no company have the finances to research and take chances on the hardware front like a Samsung. And we need a company that is able to afford to take risks to lead the hardware game. Google is just not in that mindset to take the risks for a short lived smartphone game as they are more focused on the longer life smart vehicles and software that can be provide for a long term gain for investors.

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[…]  In a previous article (Is Samsung’s dominance a good thing or a bad thing for Android users) I criticized Google for not leading the industry in innovative hardware. Though I still feel as if […]

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