John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Is Samsung Stringing Microsoft Along on Windows Phone 8?

snidely_whiplashIs Samsung’s interest in Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 on the level, or is it a ploy intended to slow the platform’s market penetration? Boutique research house Detwiler Fenton believes it may be the latter, a concerted effort by Samsung to hamstring Windows Phone 8 as it ramps up development of its own Tizen mobile OS.

If that all sounds a bit too evil-genius for the smartphone industry, consider this. Samsung’s Windows Phone road map is not elaborate by any means. The Ativ Odyssey, the company’s first Windows Phone 8 handset, is a bland offering by any metric, and one that’s not doing particularly well in the free-with-contract market for which it was intended. Detwiler Fenton analyst Jeff Johnston figures it has claimed barely any sales share at Verizon. And, interestingly, Samsung has made no effort whatsoever to boost sales. Which is all a bit odd. One could argue that if Samsung were truly committed to Windows Phone 8, it would be out in the market pushing the Ativ Odyssey and working hard to flesh out a full portfolio of devices based on the platform.

But according to Detwiler Fenton, it’s not. And for a good reason, and an obvious one, too. Samsung doesn’t particularly want to see Windows Phone 8 succeed. It would much rather have Tizen, the Linux-based mobile platform it’s developing with Intel, become the third big mobile OS after iOS and Android.

“Our checks indicate that Samsung may be intentionally gobbling up Microsoft’s smartphone resources as a strategic move to impede the adoption of Windows Phone 8,” Johnston theorizes. “While Samsung insists on receiving extensive engineering support (which they are getting) from Microsoft, there is no evidence that Samsung has any interest in seeing the Windows Phone platform succeed.”

End result: Microsoft funnels Windows Phone 8 resources that could be put to better use at other OEMs to a “strategic partner” that’s basically tying its shoelaces together. Muahahahaha

Does that seem a bit of a stretch? Certainly.

But think of it this way. Samsung is actively and openly working to reduce its reliance on Android. Essentially, that’s Tizen’s purpose. By putting its full support behind Windows Phone 8, Samsung could potentially help turn that platform into another juggernaut with which it will have to compete. So instead it feigns interest in Windows Phone 8 until it’s ready to unleash Tizen, and when it does, it has only Android and iOS to deal with. Not a bad strategy for a company that intends its offering as a sort of be-all, end-all OS that’s adaptable enough to run across everything from smartphones and tablets to smart TVs.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik