Unlike its competitors, Google (GOOG) made the decision to make its mobile operating system free and open. This meant hardware manufacturers could install Google’s Android to power their devices at no cost, and are free to make modifications to the OS.
Android is now the dominant smartphone platform, with around 80% of the market. It’s on the upswing in tablets too, surpassing a 60% market share in a market that Apple (AAPL) had previously dominated.
A huge part of Android’s success has been attributable to a single manufacturer: Samsung (SSNLF). Increasingly, Samsung — not Google — is what consumers and business customers equate with Android. In a report released earlier this year, Strategy Analytics said “We believe Samsung generates more revenue and profit from the Android platform than Google does.” Obviously, that relationship is not what Google intended.
The relationship between the Android giants may be coming to head, with multiple conflicts now brewing and, in some cases, direct competition between the two.