Both Reuters and Bloomberg independently report that Google is forcing Samsung to move away from the repetitive Android ecosystem and promote Google apps instead. Both sites saw “correspondence”; between the two companies, in which Google pushed Samsung to promote the Play Store and Google Assistant through the Galaxy App Store and Samsung’s Bixby Assistant. Apparently, Google wanted to open its wallet and pay Samsung to make it happen.
Bloomberg’s interpretation of the negotiations is rather vague, saying the agreement would “promote Google Digital Assistant and the Google Play Store for apps. [Samsung] A subsequent Reuters report is much more specific, saying Samsung is considering divesting its Bixby Virtual Assistant and Galaxy Apps Store from its mobile devices. Reuters continues to be Google’s fascination with more profitable Samsung terms than “previous deals if it deviates from its app strategy.” Part of Google’s vast Android protection web shares revenue from ads and Play Store apps with phone makers, and offering a larger share of Samsung is an easy way to bribe a South Korean company.
Does Samsung really want to kill Bixby and the Galaxy App store is in the air. Samsung has been investing a lot of money in Bixby since its inception in 2017, but Bixby has not been very successful. Samsung has acquired Viv Labs, a start-up founded by Siri developers, and helped the company improve Bixby. However, Samsung Voice Assistant still can’t hang out in the same crowd as Google Assistant, Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa.
Voice assistants are primarily interfaces with the search engine and service ecosystem. These are two things that Samsung doesn’t really invest in, making it difficult for the company to turn Bixby to good. When you tell the fairy tale “pay attention,” where does she go? Both Google and Apple have an expanding ecosystem of notes, music, reminders, calendar events, photos, maps, and more, all available on your phone and on the web. Samsung’s ecosystem gap means that Bixby uses a connected third-party service web or Samsung phone apps, which are usually forks of Google’s basic Android apps.
Samsung Bixby delivers on its Android devices, Tizen smart watches and some refrigerators (no, really). But it’s about that. Samsung announced the Bixby smart speaker as the Galaxy Home in 2018, but almost two years have passed and the product has not been seen anywhere. Samsung has turned to the cheaper Galaxy Home Mini, but the Home Mini doesn’t seem to be a commercial product anyway. Samsung has offered this as a free bonus for some Galaxy S20 pre-orders in South Korea, but it is not for sale. The real test of the voice assistant is the smart speaker, which has no interface other than voice, and Samsung doesn’t seem confident in Bixby’s ability to pull it off. The main problem I see killing Bixby is that Samsung smart watches would be left without a voice assistant at all. I have no doubt that Google will create Google Assistant for Tizen watches.
The Samsung Galaxy App Store is used to update the core Samsung Android apps that come with the phone, but in most countries this is not the reason. It is difficult to fully rely on the Google Play Store because Google Play is not available in China, so the Samsung App Store itself is useful in that country. The company’s app store in China also doesn’t seem to be a complete success, with the AppInChina App Store Index ranking Samsung as the top 15 app store in China.
It’s hard for me to imagine Samsung giving up Bixby and the Galaxy App Store when it had been so worried about its trust in Google in the past. Bloomberg accuses the coronavir of why Samsung would be open to what happened, saying: “Declining demand for mobile devices during the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the company’s revenue needs and weakened its negotiating position with a key partner.”
At this time, Google products are very strongly set by default on Samsung phones. The first home screen displays both the Google Play Store and the Google search bar, with Google being the default search engine. When we last saw the Google Play Store and Android app licensing terms, the location and default terms for Google services were set out in the agreement. Google has required licensing of the company’s closed source Android apps for things like the location of the search bar and the Play Store icons – Google wanted to stain the home screen.
The EU has indeed taken on Google’s challenges with its recruitment rules, saying Google’s licensing terms are anti-competitive. Google’s argument was that the development of Android was offered to OEMs for free, and the inclusion and embedding of these apps funded its development from ad and app revenue. The Google rebate was intended to add a level of flexibility to EU regulators to Google Play licensing, where OEMs could pay up to $ 40 to separate Google applications from placement requirements.
No Google licensing terms allow phone manufacturers to create competing and redundant services, and the Samsung Galaxy App Store also resides on the home screen next to the Play Store. Bixby usually gets its own dedicated hardware button on the side of the Samsung phone, and while it can now be converted to another app, you can’t assign it to Google Assistant.
Reuters reports that “the companies aim to create conditions by Friday.” Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 will be released next week, it seems a little premature to see any dramatic changes in the software. However, we will try to pay attention to Bixby in the presentation of the company.