To stray, or not to stray from Android?

Jun 23, 2016, 3:22 PM EDT
(Source: Sam Thorogood/flickr)
(Source: Sam Thorogood/flickr)

In a bid to be less reliant on the all-powerful Google, Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei has begun working on developing a mobile operating system, according to The Information. While Huawei’s alternative OS isn’t even close to completion, nor bears any threat to Android, the company’s strategy represents another effort from a Google hardware partner to lessen its dependency on the Mountain View-based company. 

Samsung is the other Android-running smartphone company that has publicly strayed from using Android only for its massive smartphone business. A few years ago, the company unveiled Tizen, an open-source operating system. And launched a small debut of the OS in early 2014. Built in collaboration with the Linux Foundation and Intel, Tizen was one of a few open source operating systems cropping up around the world (Firefox OS and Jolla were two others) that were the open source world’s answer to the monolith of Google. 

But if analysts think Samsung is foolhardy to stray from Android’s massive success, the South Korean tech giant clearly doesn’t share that opinion. The company has planned on running its Gear S3 smart watch on the operating system. That means that this new version of Samsung’s smart watch defects from Android Wear. While not the same as defecting from Android for smartphones, it is another baby step for Samsung in its long-planned move to secure its position in the mobile OS market away from Google. 

The reality is, no matter how successful Tizen and/or this other pending OS from Huawei are, nothing will be able to compete with Android’s dominance. The OS is far and away the most popular on a global scale. While impossible to unseat Android from its top spot, dethroning the OS isn’t in Samsung’s or Huawei’s plans. More likely are the two companies’ acknowledgement that it’s dangerous to rely so heavily on a product they have little to no authority over for success. While Android is malleable to the extent that Google allowed smartphone partners to customize it for their brands, the core remains Google’s property. Samsung and Huawei clearly see room for improvement.