Exclusive

Software Saps Samsung’s Might

Matt Vascellaro
Matt Vascellaro

The last week in January, Google chief executive Larry Page met with Samsung Electronics vice chairman and heir apparent Jay Y. Lee at Google's Mountain View campus to discuss the relationship between the technology giants, according to several people briefed on the meeting. 

The agenda for the conversations, which included other executives, was wide-ranging, and the context was tense. The companies have been discussing Google’s move to restrict partners such as Samsung from customizing the look and feel of Google's Android software, which powers Samsung's smartphones, according to several people familiar with the talks. Google has also been discouraging partners from developing apps that compete with Google's own, such as its app store, these people said.

The tension illustrates the precarious position Samsung finds itself in. The battle in mobile and the broader technology industry is shifting from Samsung’s strong suit, building hardware, to its Achilles heel, software. And its lack of software expertise—and need to walk a fine line with Google—are putting its mobile dominance in jeopardy.

No subscription? You’re missing out.
Join the high-powered community of tech and business leaders who rely on The Information’s original news and in-depth reporting.
Subscribe to read the remaining 1028 words of this article.
What’s included in a subscription?
Read The Information’s original, in-depth reporting and analysis
Receive as-they-happen articles via email
Talk with award-winning reporters in subscriber-only conference calls
Join the conversation on our subscriber-only Slack channel
Attend intimate, high-powered events with leaders in tech and business
Subscribe to The Information

With messaging apps on the rise, the company decided a few years ago it needed a unique one. But it had a slow start because Samsung didn’t create ChatOn for some key devices like iPhone until later. Samsung was also slow to integrate with text messaging in order to avoid more directly competing with wireless carriers, a person who worked at the company says. Samsung said late last year that ChatOn had 100 million subscribers, though it is unclear how many of them actively use the service. Competitor WhatsApp has 430 million active users a month.


Login or Subscribe to follow the discussions happening here and real-time in our   Slack Community.
Read comments from top tech and industry leaders
Evan Spiegel
Evan Spiegel
CEO, Snapchat
Chamath Palihapitiya
Chamath Palihapitiya
Founder & Managing Partner, SocialCapital
Marc Andreessen
Marc Andreessen
Co-Founder, Andreessen Horowitz
Jonah Peretti
Jonah Peretti
CEO, Buzzfeed
Adam D'Angelo
Adam D'Angelo
CEO, Quora
Brit Morin
Brit Morin
Founder & CEO, Brit + CO
Dustin Moskovitz
Dustin Moskovitz
Co-Founder, Asana
Christina Miller
Christina Miller
President & General Manager, Turner
Max Levchin
Max Levchin
CEO, Affirm
Adam Mosseri
Adam Mosseri
Director of Product, Facebook
Alex Mather
Alex Mather
The Atheltic
Martha Josephson
Martha Josephson
Partner, Egon Zehnder
James Murdoch
James Murdoch
Co-Chief Operating Officer, 21st Century Fox
Andrew Kortina
Andrew Kortina
Founder, Venmo
Ben Chestnut
Ben Chestnut
Co-Founder & CEO, Mailchimp
Ruchi Sanghvi
Ruchi Sanghvi
VP Operations, Dropbox
Samsung is dominated by hardware-centric executives and is very difficult for potential software partners to work with.

RECENT ARTICLES