When Google launched Android way back in 2008, it was a mess. Companies like HTC, Samsung, Sony, everyone really, knew that the new OS was incomplete, so they created “skins” in an attempt to polish Android and give it some additional functionality. You’re probably familiar with HTC Sense, Samsung TouchWiz, and Sony TimeScape. During the next few years, however, Google rapidly improved Android, to the point where “stock” Android, aka Google’s vision of what Android should look like, is widely heralded as being the best version of the operating system.
The problem is that device makers don’t want the phone space to turn into the PC space. By that I mean they don’t want customers to walk into a store, see a hundred different phones that all run the exact same software, and then pick and choose based on looks and/or price. So the skins have survived, with the logic being that someone who buys a Samsung phone will somehow fall in love with TouchWiz and refuse to use another brand of Android device because it lacks Samsung’s tweaks.
Fast forward to three weeks ago. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Samsung announced four new tablets, all of which run a brand new version of TouchWiz called “Magazine UX”. According to Re/code, Google was furious with what they saw, so much so that they arranged a meeting with Samsung and asked them to not only tone TouchWiz down, but to also stop duplicating Google’s services. Google has a chat app, Samsung has a chat app. Google has a movie, music, and app store, Samsung has a movie, music, and app store. I could go on, but I’ll stop.
The Re/code report continues by saying we’re going to see a “sea change” of differences in the look and feel of Samsung’s future devices. What exactly that means, we’ll have to wait and see, but everything is starting to make sense now. First Google and Samsung announce a massive patent cross licensing deal. Then Google dumps Motorola. And now this.
Last week I published an editorial saying Samsung and Google should join forces.
Looks like that’s been the plan all along.