Tomorrow is the beginning of Google's annual Google I/O developer conference. This is when Google showcases a number of new technologies expected to be released both soon and later in the year, and in some cases to the following year. There are a number of rumours and stories circulating on the internet with what Google may be announcing and launching this year, such as the next version of Android or at least the name and version number. Currently, we know that the next version of Android is Android N as well as what we have gathered from the preview builds that have been released to developers and the curious already. Another area where we are expecting to see news is in the virtual reality sector. Google is expected to release a new virtual reality headset along with the Android VR platform, in a move that could potentially ignite the sector. Google's Android has become the most popular mobile operating system on the planet thanks in no small measure to the successful Samsung Galaxy line of Android (based) smartphones.
Google and Samsung exist in an interesting and competitive world. Both companies have released similar products to one another: Samsung introduced the Galaxy Gear range of wearable smartwatches over a year before Google released the Android Wear platform and showcased three wearables, including a Samsung watch. Both companies have written applications that use the same service – some Samsung Galaxy smartphones include both the stock Google applications such as Calendar, plus Samsung's own in-house applications, giving the customer a choice of two applications to use. Google have sold the Nexus line of smartphones, albeit in limited quantities, and Samsung have sold the Galaxy line: here again we have seen a measure of cooperation as Samsung have built two Nexus devices for Google and we've seen the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition, which is a close proximity to a Nexus device but benefiting from Samsung's hardware and device "know how."
Moving back to virtual reality, Google's expected virtual reality headset is expected to compete with the Samsung Gear VR device. Samsung reduced the price of the Gear VR last year to $99 in order to help sell the device and gain market share. Samsung has also announced it will cooperate with Facebook and has acquired VR specialist, Oculus. Will a new virtual reality platform and device from Google upset Samsung's virtual reality plans? In the short term, it might unsettle sales – customers may decide against picking up the Samsung Gear VR if it does not support the Android VR platform. On the other hand, any interest in the virtual reality sector is good news for both businesses especially as this is an immature market and there is massive potential. It is also possible that the two businesses competing against one another will inspire developments and breakthroughs.
Other areas where Google and Samsung compete include mobile operating systems, where Samsung has tried to reduce its dependence on Android by reworking an existing platform, Bada, into Tizen and releasing several smartphone and wearable devices running the new operating system such as the Gear S2. Both businesses have Internet-of-Things technologies such as Google's Brillo and Samsung's Artik, and of course, we have Android Pay competing with Samsung Pay. Samsung finds itself in a potentially difficult place at the moment. Part of the company's success in the mobile sphere is very much down to reliance on Google's technologies, but the company is attempting to differentiate its products at a time when Google is trying to reduce differences between devices. Breaking out new platforms – such as Tizen – into an established market is hugely expensive and extremely difficult to make any progress, as Microsoft and BlackBerry well know. However, the wearables, Internet of Things and Virtual Reality markets are immature and it is relatively easier for Samsung to gain a foothold. Either way, two large businesses offering competitive products against one another should be good news for the sector.