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Those who bought a Samsung Galaxy phone or the related tablet at the time of their release must have felt good about owning a nice Android-enabled device. But I bet that feeling fell to the wayside once Samsung announced that the Galaxy won't be getting the latest Android Ice Cream Sandwich update. I can understand their disappointment, as I am among those 10 million customers who have been left in the lurch by Samsung.
However, there is more to this Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) -Samsung fiasco than meets the eye.
The bane of the Alliance
When Google formed the Open Handset Alliance in 2007, bringing together carriers, manufacturers, and application developers from the world over, it brought about a revolution in smartphones by giving an open platform to all parties for innovation. However, the Alliance gave rise to inconsistencies in the phones manufactured by handset makers, which is hindering the update of the latest Android version in Galaxy.
Another clause in the Alliance (I wonder why it even exists) states that all devices released in the past 18 months will not be updated with the latest version.
These are the two areas where Google has gone wrong and should look to set things right before they start eroding the company's commanding market share of 43%.
What needs to be done
If Google is to set this right, it needs to standardize specifications of devices that feature the Android platform, just like Microsoft's Windows Phone 7. Android may be leading the market in terms of share, but now it needs to consolidate and hence it should look to stabilize its platform. Apple's iOS and Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 may not have the freedom of the Android platform, but they do take care of their customers by giving uniform updates across all devices as they conform to their minimum hardware requirements. So Google should look to nip the competition in the bud if it's to maintain its hegemony in the smartphone market.
Samsung's update refusal must have left Google red in the face as the Mountain View-based company was looking to unify the update cycle for devices. Google needs to understand that it has to impose itself strongly so that its Android system doesn't lose steam in the midst of this merry-go-round by handset makers.
The Foolish takeaway
As I said, Google needs to bring in uniformity in phones running on Android from now on. One way this can be done is by making standard devices through Motorola -- once Google's acquisition of the handset manufacturer is complete -- and ask others to match its example. A correction today will help Google maintain its leading position in the mobile space, but if it chooses to ignore, competitors are waiting to bite a slice off Google's smartphone market share.
The secret of Google's success in the mobile arena is already well understood by most investors. However, there are plenty of other companies investors regularly overlook that stand to benefit just as much from the mobile boom. The Motley Fool recently compiled a research report detailing 3 Hidden Winners Of The iPhone, iPad, and Android Revolution, which it made completely free to its readers. The secret might not stay under wraps for long, so access your free report today.