There should be no doubting now that Samsung is trying to undermine Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) as much as it is Apple. The South Korean conglomerate's penchant for imitation shows no sign of abating, and the company is now broadening this strategy beyond hardware and aggressively trying to get into content and services.
Samsung is naming its storefront the remarkably self-explanatory Samsung Content & Services, which will take direct shots at both the iTunes App Store and Google Play. Following its latest Apple carbon copy of the Passbook app, Samsung is now introducing AllShare Play and Find My Mobile services, which are the company's versions of AirPlay and Find My iPhone.
The repository was launched just two days ago and the app section looks uncannily similar to Google Play. Last month at Mobile World Congress, Samsung made it clear that bolstering its content and services platform was a critical strategic goal this year, according to Korea IT News.
There's been some speculation recently that Samsung may be interested in forking Android at some point in the near future in order to gain more control over the user experience. However, that would entail some major risks and undoubtedly ruin its relationship with the search giant, which it still relies on for the operating system that powers all of its most popular mobile gadgets.
If Samsung were to theoretically go completely rogue, it would stop getting early access to the newest Android builds along with other forms of collaboration from Google. All of Big G's services that tie directly into Android could potentially go by the wayside. That could prove fatal for Samsung's prospects, especially in the important U.S. market.
It's been done before
Although if history has any lessons for us, look no further than Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN). To date, the e-tail giant has been the most successful Android forker with its Kindle Fire family of tablets.
Amazon grabbed 11.5% of the tablet market in the fourth quarter with 6 million units shipped, and all of those devices are feeding directly into its own content and services offerings instead of Google's official Android outlets. Amazon is the success story for any would-be forkers to emulate.
It all started when Amazon initially set up its Appstore for Android back in March 2011 -- six months before it launched the first Kindle Fire. At the time, there was much speculation that Amazon was preparing a new line of hardware, and opening a distinct Android store that was separate from Google's made the e-tailer's intentions crystal clear.
Amazon wouldn't have been able to succeed without the Appstore, and it already had plenty of other types of digital content to complement. Setting up a separate storefront is the first step on the path to forking -- a step that Samsung is now taking.
While it's a long journey from setting up shop to going completely rogue with a fully forked version of Android, Samsung has clearly demonstrated that it's not happy with just being a hardware OEM anymore and wants to up its game in software and services.
Even if it remains an obedient enlistee of the Android army, it could continue to finagle more benefits out of Google as the largest vendor by far. Since Google has mostly lost control of the platform, particularly on a global scale, it's conceivable to envision a dramatic negotiation between Samsung and Google where Samsung demands more in ad revenue sharing or threatens to defect and go it alone since it has all the pieces it needs.
I'm not saying the situation will pan out like that, but I'm also not saying it won't.