Is This the Future of Android?

Last week, Samsung and Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) dropped a bombshell for Android enthusiasts. The pair is preparing to launch a version of Samsung's newest Galaxy S4 flagship running stock Android. In no uncertain terms, the move is obviously Samsung throwing Google a bone, since the unsubsidized device is unlikely to make a dent in the market (the vast majority of consumers prefer subsidized prices).

There may be some tensions between the two companies since Samsung continues to subtly downplay Google's role in its devices, and shipping a version running stock Android will please the niche segment of users willing to pay full price for a "Nexus user experience."

Galaxy S4 running stock Android. Source: Google.

Interestingly enough, the announcement sparked a response from rival HTC, the Taiwanese OEM that's been trying to be more vocal lately and has been actively bashing Samsung's cheap plastic ways. The latest jab at the South Korean conglomerate also included an interesting tease of what HTC may have in store.

HTC developer evangelist Leigh Momii tweeted this tantalizing tidbit:

Her comment suggests that HTC may be preparing to release more stock Android devices, recommending that anyone willing to pay $649 should just wait. Many enthusiasts are hoping for an HTC One running stock Android, given its high-quality hardware. However, an HTC exec followed up with Android and Me and said that the company is "not currently" planning such a device.

HTC currently offers a model that runs stock Android, the First. The First is the first real Facebook Phone with Home pre-installed. While the device appears to be bombing, users can turn off Home and find a stock Android experience running underneath.

Still, the possibility of more OEMs exploring stock Android has profound implications on the future of Android. In an extreme case, if manufacturers embraced stock Android entirely, that would ensure quick hardware commoditization and margin erosion. If all devices ran the same software, OEMs would end up competing entirely on price much like they did during the rise of Microsoft Windows.

This would actually be great for Google and terrible for OEMs. Google wants Android (and its ads and services) in as many hands as possible, hoping to connect the next wave of Internet users. The lower the cost, the more Android proliferates. The lower the cost, the less OEMs make.

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Read/Post Comments (5) | Recommend This Article (7)

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  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2013, at 2:12 AM, yahoouser4529 wrote:

    LG nexus is satisfying for me. I don't require Samsung. Google and LG benefited well with the nexus 4 deal.

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2013, at 9:50 AM, sm5574 wrote:

    I would like a subsidized phone running stock Android. I don't understand why I have to rely on Verizon Wireless to decide whether my phone gets an upgrade or not. (And no, I'm not into jailbreaking phones.)

  • Report this Comment On May 21, 2013, at 11:47 AM, althotos wrote:

    I suspect that the premise of this article is correct regarding Samsung throwing Google a bone. Very few people, including me, would be willing to pay 649 for an S4 running stock Android. I recently upgraded to my 3rd HTC Android phone - the HTC One. Not only is it an aesthetically beautiful piece of hardware, all aluminum case with wall to wall Gorilla glass, but it's got the guts of a very powerful, speed demon. Thank goodness, my carrier T-mobile, went sent me an email offer to upgrade with 99.00 down and 20.00/month for the next 24 months. I like that a lot better than fronting the entire up-front cost. Besides, I like the layers that HTC Sense adds to Android. We have 2 Nexus tablets with stock Android Jelly Bean in our house, but you can't carry them in your pocket 7x24. I find myself upgrading my phone every 18 months, but I haven't upgraded my laptop in 3 years. Anyone wonder why the PC market is taking a dive along with Windows 8?

  • Report this Comment On May 22, 2013, at 2:54 AM, doawithlife wrote:

    6 months the first Windows PC phone comes out (like a phone that can run Windows XP, Vista, 7, or 8).

    I plan to wait a year or two for the phones to get a little more CPU/GPU power and the price to drop. Then I will buy my first smartphone.

    Would be sweet to have a PC you can slide in your pocket then use Google Glass as your monitor. You could multi-task playing WoW, looking at your GPS, chatting with friends online, making a phone call, and watching porn all while driving!

  • Report this Comment On July 13, 2014, at 1:28 AM, 1973bear wrote:

    These Android Smartphones are really cheap check out http://www.cheapandroid.info available in the UK and worldwide shipping, great value and great specifications!

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