If you know anything at all about Android, you know that Samsung dominates the landscape. Love them or hate them, Samsung commands the lion's share of Android device sales, and there's no sign that will change anytime soon. As has been done with every other market leader in the past, it's time to take a look at Samsung and where their business is headed. We aren't going to look back at history here, instead we're going to look forward.
Samsung is a fiercely independent company and their desire to control every aspect of their products is plainly obvious. This desire to control their own hardware and software is even more evident if you're willing to look at some of the less obvious moves toward independence that Samsung has made over the last year or so.
That's what we are going to do. Starting today we're going to look at how Samsung is positioning itself to not only continue their assault on Apple, but the extension of that assault to include RIM, and ultimately Android itself.
Here's the schedule of how this series will run and what the topic for each part will be:
- Today – Part 1 – Samsung opens a new front with RIM, or did they?
- Tomorrow – Part 2 – Samsung further distancing themselves from Google
- Monday – Part 3 – Samsung's hard times ahead
RIM will release Blackberry 10 on the 30th
It may be years too late to make RIM relevant in the mobile OS market again, but that's not going to stop the new OS and devices from making it to market this time. After delays caused by ineptitude by the former co-CEOs cost RIM 4 years in the battle against Apple and Google, there was yet another critical delay in the release of new devices and a new OS late last year that, in my opinion, all but sealed RIM's fate.
RIM owned the enterprise at one point in its history, and there was even a time when those that didn't have a work issued Blackberry device were considered to be "less than important" by their co-workers. In my own history, when I was issued a Blackberry by a former employer, it changed the attitude of my co-workers toward me. It was a status symbol, and right or wrong, this type of peer judgement existed.
But that was then.
RIM is all but gone from the US market and the prospects of Blackberry OS 10 breathing new life into RIM the company, and by extension its share of the US market are slim. Actually, no, that's wrong. The chances that BB 10 brings RIM's market share back from the dead are non-existent. But does that mean that competing platforms shouldn't take the new entry from RIM seriously?
Oh no, far from it. The quickest way to lose a fight is to refuse to throw a punch.
Explosive quarterly sales growth doesn't just happen
Samsung, as the Android OEM leader is always on the lookout for unexplored sales opportunities. The pickings are pretty slim amongst consumers, as there just isn't room for explosive growth in a more mature smartphone landscape. Even companies that are famous for posting year over year sales numbers that seem unfathomable are finding it difficult to maintain these breakneck sales numbers.
Wouldn't that put Samsung in the same bind? I mean, the Galaxy S line has always been the runaway sales leader for Samsung, shouldn't the decline in growth that Apple just reportedtrickle down to the Android leader?
You'd think so, but no. Not yet.
Samsung SAFE Program, is it about RIM or is it about Apple
I don't want to turn this post into a novella by wading into the deep end of describing all that the SAFE program entails, but if you haven't heard of it you can read all about it here. In a nutshell, the SAFE Program is a hardware framework that brings RIM like (or more correctly, Apple like) device policy control to any Android, iOS or yes, even Tizen device. It's a way for enterprise users to force device security policy on devices that they issue to employees, or that they allow employees to bring to work.
CITEworld ran a story last week that explored the Samsung SAFE Program in fairly good detail, and accurately described it as Samsung's attempt to thread the needle between RIM's archaic model of total device lockdown and Apple's more user friendly, perhapshippie-like approach to securing the iPhone and iPad in an enterprise environment. But in spending so much time focusing on how SAFE stacks up against Blackberry Enterprise Server Mr. Faas missed the mark.
SAFE isn't about RIM at all, it's all about Apple.
There are a couple of undeniable facts about smartphone sales to enterprise:
- Businesses aren't buying Blackberry devices.
- Businesses are still buying smartphones for their employees.
But if businesses aren't buying RIM devices, but also haven't stopped buying smartphones, who picked up the slack left by RIM? That answer is easy. And obvious. It is Samsung's arch-enemy Apple.
iOS brings just enough device security to the party to be acceptable to even US Government agencies, but Android devices typically fall short of key security features for wide adoption by business and government users. That's where Samsung Approved For Enterprise, or SAFE comes in.
Android includes many business centered device security capabilities, but the SAFE Program from Samsung is laying the groundwork for an assault on the fertile ground that are iOS enterprise sales by providing the combination hardware and software approach to security that enterprise and government users demand.
The SAFE Program is aimed at RIM's Blackberry, but only inasmuch as Blackberry stands out beyond the iPhone in device security. The one true target of SAFE is Apple and their iPhone and iPad sales to enterprise and government users.
After all, to maintain the sales growth that investors demand, Samsung needs to find a new outlet to sell into. The only real battlefront left for Samsung to Apple is in the enterprise.