Dan Rowinski from ReadWrite.com did a nice piece about the, uh, similarities between the new Samsung Hub on the new Galaxy S4 and the Google Play Store. The author goes into some detail probing Samsung’s goals for aping the Play Store, even questioning Samsung’s current place in the platform ecosystem. But Mr Rowinski missed the big fat elephant in the room entirely.
There is really no point to having their own version of the Google Play Store because, as the article points out, there’s little money to be made from hawking apps, books and media. There’s only one real reason to go to all of the effort that Samsung has in developing Samsung Hub, and that’s to have a viable app store when they launch their own OS platform.
The new Samsung Hub isn’t about Google, Apple or Android at all. Samsung Hub is all about Tizen and the attempt that Samsung will make to switch their devices away from Android and onto a platform that they own and control.
I’ve made the point before that Samsung’s end goal is to be the platform, like Apple with iOS and the iPhone/iPad combo. It’s the worst kept secret in mobile technology, but there are still lots and lots of people that are in deep denial about the existence of this desire that Samsung has to end their reliance on Google and Android. Samsung Hub is just another piece of the puzzle that was needed to make a switch to running Tizen on their devices possible.
Samsung built their market share, really in an admirable way. Like most Android OEM’s, they built a custom overlay for Android that many, including Apple thought bore a striking resemblance to iOS. Their phones and tablets were even greatly influenced by the Apple design philosophies for devices, but Samsung did things the way that they wanted to do them.
TouchWiz and the Galaxy S and Galaxy Tab devices that it runs on are the market leading devices that they are today because Samsung had the nuts to go toe-to-toe with Apple, and not back down in the face of the legal challenges that Apple has made against their products. That really doesn’t seem like a company that is content with shipping devices that runs on Google’s OS, it seems much more like a company with a vision for their future. A future that doesn’t include Google or Android as their featured OS.
You can make the case that, just as Samsung has done developed their own apps that run alongside the Google developed Android apps, Hub exists to give users of Galaxy devices the Samsung take on what the mobile experience should be. You could try to make that case, but you’d be wrong.
TouchWiz on Tizen is virtually indistinguishable from TouchWiz on Android. In fact, if you aren’t paying attention, they’re nearly impossible to tell apart. All of the Samsung built apps that are included with TouchWiz will be familiar to previous users of Samsung devices, and they’ll all buy their apps, books and media from the Samsung Hub.
That’s the point Mr. Rowinski.