Google Inc.'s Android has emerged as the top platform for smartphones, with a market share of more than 40%, and Samsung is the top seller of Android powered smartphones and tablets.
But according to a report, Samsung Electronics may unveil a tablet powered by Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 8, marking the South Korean company's first collaboration with the software giant.
A shift to Windows?
While Samsung with its Galaxy S phones has gained ground against Apple's iPhone and Finnish handset maker Nokia's Symbian-based phones, and its Galaxy Tab tablets are second only to the iPad (which commands 70% of the market), it has been a rocky road for the Korean electronics maker.
Apple Inc. has filed many complaints against manufacturers of devices running Google's Android OS. But Samsung has taken most of the damage. Samsung has been facing lawsuits filed by Apple in three continents claiming that Samsung's devices are "slavishly" imitating the design and interface of the iPad and iPhone. Apple managed to obtain from courts in Germany, Netherlands and Australia a ban of the marketing and sale of the Galaxy Tab 10.1, the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and/or the Galaxy S 2 smartphone until the patent suits are resolved. Just for this week, Apple brought its wrath to Japan, asking a Tokyo court to enjoin Samsung from selling its mobile devices in the country.
Google Inc., the developer of the Android, is on an acquisition spree of patents in order to pursue counterclaims in the patent infringement suits being asserted by Apple and others. While it lost in a bankruptcy auction for Nortel Networks' 6,000 patents to a group formed by Microsoft, Apple, and other non-Android users, Google has been able to buy patents from International Business Machines Corp. and it is paying $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility.
While Motorola has been struggling to regain market share, it has a deep patent portfolio that attracted to Google. Looking beyond the patents, the purchase of Motorola makes Google a competitor of Samsung and other Android partners. Google though has assured Samsung and others that Android will continue to be open source, amid concerns with the purchase.
Responding to analysts asking about the possibility that Samsung Electronics might buy webOS from Hewlett Packard, amid issues with Android, Samsung CEO Choi Gee Sung said at last week's IFA that Samsung would never acquire webOS. Aside from Android, Samsung already has the Bada mobile OS, which is popular in China and other parts of Asia, and Android. "It's not right that acquiring an operating system is becoming a fashion," Sung told reporters at the world's largest consumer electronics and home appliances show.
But probably Samsung isn't interested in webOS because it has set its eyes on Microsoft for its software needs.
The Inquirer, citing a Korea Economic Daily report, reports that Samsung Electronics may unveil a tablet powered by Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 8 next week. According to the report, the tablet would be revealed at a Microsoft's Build developers' conference in Anaheim, Calif., and marks Samsung's first collaboration with Microsoft for its hardware devices.
Unlike the Android, Microsoft's Windows operating system has been clear from any lawsuits by Apple or Oracle. But while the Windows is the most widely used platform for desktops and laptops, it has barely made a dent in the smartphone and tablet market. Taiwan's HTC, Samsung and fellow South Korean conglomerate LG previously tried out Windows Phone 7 on their smartphones but they only found success with Android. As Apple's iOS and Google's Android are the top platforms for mobile devices, they have attracted more developers, and thus each has an extensive portfolio of apps that dwarf those of Microsoft and others.
The future though is more promising for Microsoft. Microsoft has inked a partnership under which Nokia, the top seller of mobile phones in the past years, will be retiring the Symbian and will be selling handsets based on the Windows platform. As for the tablet segment, Motorola is not miles away from the Android as Apple's iPad has taken most of the market.
It remains to be seen whether Samsung will leave Android to tie the knot with Windows. It's probable that Samsung is getting Microsoft as a back-up plan or is only trying to widen its portfolio of mobile devices. But with Nokia and Samsung at hand, Microsoft might finally become a dominant force in mobile devices.
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