Samsung’s Mobile Strategy: Diversify
With HP hoping to license out its webOS mobile platform for other hardware-makers to use on their branded smartphones and tablets, one company that may be interested may be Samsung. If Samsung does in fact choose to license webOS, the Korean manufacturer will effectively have four working mobile operating systems under its belt: Android, Windows Phone 7, its home-grown Bada OS, and also webOS. The Korean giant was also a licensee of the Symbian operating system as well as Windows Mobile when those OSes were still in their prime.
Unlike other manufacturers who are betting it all one one or a few platforms, Samsung’s somewhat neutral approach is interesting in the ultra-competitive mobile sector. For instance, it’s rival Nokia is largely hedging its bet on Windows Phone 7, while HTC is committed to the same platform as well as to Android. In Samsung’s case, the manufacturer is either truly indecisive about its strategy, or really is doubting the success of Android.
While Android has been the buzz of mobile and has proven to be a worthy challenger to popular operating systems like RIM’s BlackBerry platform and Apple’s iOS, the platform has been criticized in recent times for fragmentation, delays in getting the latest updates out to handsets, and on the Android tablet front there seems to be little differentiation between various Honeycomb tablets that are now competing against each other on pricing rather than waging a united front against external competitors such as the Apple iPad 2.
If in fact speculation that Samsung is planning on licensing webOS is true–three Bloomberg sources claim that this may happen–it shows that Samsung may be uncertain on how it can compete on the Android front. Other than customize user interfaces, some hardware variations, and changes in screen technologies, for example, there seem to be little variation between the three available 4G LTE Android super phones on Verizon Wireless. By going webOS and lending its name to the platform, Samsung would hopefully have fewer competitors with that platform than inside the Android camp with its own phones. In the past, the company has tried to differentiate itself from its Android rivals with smartphones that use better and different displays (AMOLED, Super AMOLED, and Super AMOLED Plus), Samsung-made processors, thin and light designs, and custom user interfaces in the form of TouchWiz.
So far, neither HP nor Samsung are commenting on rumors that the latter may be licensing the former’s mobile OS, but if it does happen, it may give webOS a boost given Samsung’s scale and relevance in the mobile arena.