Why Samsung Doesn’t Want You to Use Google Apps
Almost all Samsung users complain that their Galaxy devices are full of pre-installed bloatware, some of which cannot even be removed. This is not a new problem; Samsung has been aware of this problem since the days of TouchWiz, the predecessor of One UI.
But if so, why does the company refuse to fix this problem? One word: Google. Although Samsung and Google share the same goal of beating Apple, the two companies have a longstanding rivalry. This is why Samsung doesn’t want you to use Google apps.
Why Samsung and Google need each other
Samsung and Google have a symbiotic relationship. On the one hand, Google needs Samsung because it is the world’s largest Android phone maker and therefore the largest Google service provider. In a way, Samsung is making sure that Google services actually reach people.
Without Samsung, many Android users would simply switch to the iPhone due to the lack of solid alternatives, which would make Google worse off and prevent it from making as much ad revenue.
On the other hand, Samsung needs Google because it owns Android and has better knowledge in creating apps and services. Google’s services make Android phones more attractive, thus keeping Samsung users loyal and not switching to the iPhone.
Without Google, Samsung would not be able to compete with the Apple ecosystem on its own. In other words, Google is primarily a software company and Samsung is primarily a hardware company; The synergy of the two is needed to compete with Apple.
Here’s where it gets interesting: Samsung hates to trust Google. If it belonged to Samsung, Galaxy phones wouldn’t even run Android. In fact, in 2010, Samsung tried to replace Android by releasing its own mobile operating system called Bada. When that didn’t work out, Samsung tried again with Tizen in 2012, but was unsuccessful.
While Samsung can’t replace Android, its efforts threaten Google. If Samsung somehow manages to create a competitive mobile operating system in the future, it could theoretically introduce its own services to its users. Google services and the Android operating system will become irrelevant overnight.
In response, Google bought Motorola in 2012 for $12.5 billion. In a blog post, it said the acquisition of Motorola will “help protect the Android ecosystem” and “accelerate innovation and choice in mobile computing.” Now, although no one is named in the post, it’s reasonable to assume that this move is a warning to Samsung.
If Samsung didn’t do well, Google could use Motorola to directly compete with it. For example, Google could suggest that Motorola get new Android updates first and optimize its services to work exceptionally well on Motorola phones, making other brands less attractive.
Seeing this, Samsung finally agreed to tone down the bloatware, maintain the overall look of Android, and make some Google services the default option on Galaxy phones. No wonder Google sold Motorola to Lenovo in 2014 for just $2.91 billion.
However, this rivalry is far from over. In 2017, Samsung launched its own virtual assistant, Bixby, which was designed to directly compete with Google Assistant, but as we already know, that didn’t work either. Bixby is a good assistant on its own, but you’ll have a hard time convincing an Android user to say “Hey Bixby” instead of “Hey Google.”
Today, the cooperation between Samsung and Google is more civilized. As Google looks to expand and strengthen its Pixel product portfolio, it needs Samsung’s manufacturing capabilities and hardware expertise to do so.
If the two companies work together, Samsung could secure Google as a major customer for its manufacturing business. In the meantime, Google can make sure Samsung doesn’t interfere with Android, doesn’t use WearOS on its Galaxy Watches, and collaborates on future projects.
In fact, the Tensor chipset found in Google Pixel phones is manufactured by Samsung Foundry. In October 2022, Samsung announced an expanded partnership with Google to streamline smart home ecosystems such as SmartThings and Google Home. According to some information, the Pixel Fold screen that is being talked about is also being developed by Samsung.
In context, this partnership does not mean that Samsung should stop developing its own applications and services. This means that Google services that are essential to the Samsung Android experience, such as the Google Play Store, Assistant, Search, etc. should prefer.
Why is Samsung getting better at software?
While Samsung is clearly the king of hardware, it knows that software is the future. Why? Because once the sale is made, the company no longer has control over the product’s hardware, but the software is infinitely more flexible and manageable, and therefore more cost-effective.
Basically, your phone is just a portal to your favorite apps, so as long as the hardware is good enough, it doesn’t technically matter what brand it comes from. If you’ve noticed, this is exactly why Samsung has been focusing so much on software over the past few years.
For example, we know that TouchWiz was already terrible when it was launched in 2010, but One UI has remained one of the best Android skins ever since its launch in 2018.
Samsung phones now get major OS updates every four years – more than any other Android brand, including Google itself. The company also works with various developers to optimize popular third-party apps like Snapchat and Instagram for Galaxy phones.
Samsung has partnered with Microsoft to bridge the gap between their ecosystems. That’s why when you back up your Galaxy phone, Samsung uses Microsoft OneDrive instead of Google Drive. That’s why Link for Windows comes pre-installed on Galaxy devices, so you can instantly connect them to your Windows PC.
All these efforts are aimed at reducing Samsung’s dependence on Google. The problem is that many modern apps and services depend on Google Mobile Services (GMS). For example, WhatsApp uses Google Drive to back up your conversations, Uber uses Google Maps for navigation, and game developers need the Play Store to process your in-app purchases.
In other words, not using Google services isn’t an option for most of us, so there’s not much Samsung can realistically do in that regard. Working with Microsoft, smart TVs, flip phones, laptops, game consoles and more. like maintaining as much control as possible in areas where Google is not a strong competitor.
Samsung and Google will remain sworn enemies
The relationship between Samsung and Google is complicated, and while it’s more civil today, knowing how far both companies have gone over the years to stay competitive in the industry, we can’t help but feel anxious about the future.
What we do know is that things can change very quickly in the tech industry, and the two tech giants need each other as much as they push each other. We’re curious to see how the two brands develop and what the Android community has in store.