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Posted : 2014-01-21 17:48
Updated : 2014-01-21 17:48

Samsung, Google become 'frienemies'

Korean firm plans to promote Tizen-based phones at MWC

By Kim Yoo-chul

Samsung Electronics and Google have become "frienemies" ― part friends, part enemies ― with each other.

Samsung's move to promote smartphones using the Tizen operating system, instead of Google's Android, is an example of their relationship.

A Samsung official said Tuesday the firm will hold a developers' forum to promote Tizen-embedded smartphones at the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) fair in the Spanish city of Barcelona.

"We are working with leading mobile carriers in Europe and distribution channels to expand the use of Tizen-embedded mobile devices," the official said.

Samsung said the "Tizen Reception" will be held on Feb. 23 by Tizen Association, an open-source group that was created through the merger of the former MeeGo and LiMo platforms. Samsung is the largest backer of the association.

The reception will be the venue for invited media, partners and content developers to get insights into the next strategies for Tizen software, the official said.

The association is also backed by Sprint of the United States, Intel and leading European carriers including Orange and Vodafone of the U.K.

"The commitment to grow the Tizen alliance will make Google feel uneasy," said Han Jung-woo, a 36-year-old CEO of a local content developing firm in Seoul.

While Samsung became the top phone-seller thanks to its "all-in" strategy for Google Android software, it is eager to create a new "mobile ecosystem" as the Korean technology heavyweight hopes to become a market creator not just a fast follower.

The move concerns Google because Samsung is the biggest user of the Android system.

"As Samsung realized economies of scale in its handset business, the company wants to hedge against Google Android," said an official at the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning. Samsung's global handset share has reached over 30 percent.

Samsung's diversification strategy comes as Microsoft (MS), the U.S.-based software giant, is said to be planning to release the "super Samsung-MS phone" using Windows sometime this year, according to industry sources.

"Microsoft and Samsung have an interesting partnership. MS doesn't care about moves by LG Electronics because LG is not such an important client for MS. But Samsung is different. MS is partnering with Samsung for projects about new phones using MS' Windows software," said a source.

In 2011, Samsung and MS signed a patent agreement for flexible use of each other's technologies.

MS, which contends it has patents on technologies found in certain Android features, is receiving royalties for Samsung's mobile phones and tablets running Android under the terms of the agreement.

Florian Mueller, a German-based intellectual-property analyst writing for the blog Foss Patents, recently said; "Samsung probably knows it can't rely on Google. It decided to address Android's intellectual property issues on its own."


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