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What sets Samsung apart is its ability to build a phone with strong hardware and features and implement Android customization that caters to its customers, he notes. Samsung’s ability to dominate the market could give the company leverage to ask for cuts in the search revenue.
Chris Silva, a mobile industry analyst at Altimeter Group, notes that Google seems to be the victims and the beneficiaries of their own success when it comes to Android, from fines for fragmentation to concerns about Samsung looking for cheaper ad prices.
"Google's in an interesting spot as far as Android goes," Mr. Silva says. "Win or lose, they always have some sort of issue."
Aside from the possibility of renegotiations, Google is likely concerned about Samsung customizing Android to the point where it prevents customers from getting a sense of the Android experience.
"Users see an app, and they see a range on the screen and that to them is what the experience is," Silva says. "If Samsung or HTC try to define what that is, it waters down what Google's experience is."
Google’s concerns also call into question what success the company will have with its Nexus devices. These flagship Android devices -- which in the past have been made by Samsun, HTC, and others -- have been well-received, Silva notes, but the appeal is limited to a very tech-savvy crowd that’s looking for a pure Android experience. Samsung’s Galaxy products are clearly much more popular.
While it is too early to tell how well Samsung and Google will perform in the mobile industry in the following months, it is clear that Google will have to decide whether it wants to dominate the market with the ubiquitous Android OS or control its sales in products that bring the most profit and exposure, Silva says.
“They want to serve the Android ecosystem and they have a hard time when they’re competing for head space with Samsung and others,” he says. “They can’t keep their control-of-brand mind happy if they’re keeping their ad revenue and the number of-search-queries happy.”