Samsung Ponders Move To Windows Phone - InformationWeek

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1/12/2015
12:00 PM
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Samsung Ponders Move To Windows Phone

Samsung appears to be shifting its focus away from Google's Android mobile OS. Will it fill the gap with Windows Phone?

 =CES 2015: 11 Peeks Into The Future
CES 2015: 11 Peeks Into The Future
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Samsung is weighing a new smartphone strategy. The company had hoped to use its Tizen platform to reduce its reliance on Google's Android. But now that Tizen is more or less dead, it may fill that gap with Microsoft's Windows Phone instead. There are a few hurdles in the way, but if they can be cleared the move could benefit both Samsung and Microsoft.

"Samsung has run pilot programs on the stability of Windows 8.1 software on devices," a Samsung official told The Korea Times. "It is interested in promoting Windows mobiles. By releasing a Windows mobile, Samsung could manage its phone business in the low-, mid-, to premium-end sectors."

Samsung has historically not been a big fan of Windows Phone. It has produced few such smartphones to date and made most of its fortunes over the last three years solely from devices with Android. Whether or not Samsung moves forward with Windows Phone will depend heavily on settling the bad legal blood between it and Microsoft.

[This year's upcoming World Mobile Congress should be a whopper. Read CES 2015: Lack Of Killer Phones Sets Up WMC.]

Thanks to patent royalties, Microsoft makes money from each Android handset sold. It signed a licensing agreement with Samsung over these patents, and Samsung made payments for a while. Everything changed, however, when Microsoft bought Nokia's handset business. Samsung claimed the acquisition made Microsoft a direct hardware competitor with Samsung and nullified their legal agreements. Since then, it hasn't made its payments to Microsoft and owes the Redmond-based firm more than $1 billion. Even though the deal closed last year, Samsung is still attempting to convince antitrust regulators to undo the acquisition. This is a big issue -- one that won't be solved overnight.

"If the companies settle their litigation," said The Korea Times' source, "then Samsung will manufacture handsets powered by the Microsoft-developed mobile platform. The timing could be the third quarter of this year at the earliest." That's one giant "if."

Why would Samsung turn to Microsoft's platform now? For starters, Microsoft is giving Windows Phone away for free, just as Google does with Android. Microsoft no longer asks handset makers for licensing fees. Windows Phone has broader developer support than Samsung's own Tizen platform. Samsung has delayed the release of Tizen-based phones due to the lack of apps. Windows Phone, small as its footprint is, is the world's third-most-popular mobile platform. Moreover, if Samsung is serious about breaking away from Google, Microsoft's Windows Phone is the next best -- read "only" -- option.

Microsoft needs all the help it can get. Windows Phone's market share has actually eroded over the last six months, despite the strengths of the Windows Phone 8.1 system update (announced last spring). HTC remains committed to Windows Phone, but other OEMs, such as Huawei, have given up on the platform. Winning over Samsung should be a priority for Microsoft.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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fordfiveohh
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fordfiveohh,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/7/2015 | 12:02:27 PM
Re: Would not be a good move for Samsung
Not responding is not a reflection on Microsoft. Not responding simply means that the user interface is on the same thread as the task it invoked. Because of this the form cannot respond because the operating system cant give resources because of two things : 1 your computer was slow enough to allow this to occur 2 the developer did not create a thread and callback for the long running task that froze the UI. This is either because your computer is too slow and or bad programming of that app. It has nothing to do with Microsoft.
RickP034
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RickP034,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/14/2015 | 10:55:45 PM
Would not be a good move for Samsung
After using Microsoft products for years and dealing with their continued unstable operating systems, crashing machines and "not responding" messages when trying to do simple tasks, it was an absolute joy to be able to use Samsung Android phones and tablets to do the same tasks without the forever constant restarting and rebooting. Why anyone would want to purchase a Windows phone is beyond me.  And, Tizen ISN'T dead by any means, making me wonder about the possible bias in this article.  Samsung has been very active recently developing that OS for all of their other non-phone products, but, yes, they are behind in terms of a phone application. Nonetheless, whoever has the deepest pockets for app development incentives will determine the future products we use.  Microsoft has been shoving their crappy systems down our throats for years only because of their deep pocket influence.  It's not because they have a wonderful, quality product. 
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
1/14/2015 | 3:18:07 PM
Re: Stay with Android
Agreed, a complete switch would not be in order, because Samsung has only experienced one season of sales lower than expectations with their SG5 -- they will have to be at least 5 or 6 additional bad seasons before Samsung completely switches over from Android. 

That is why I feel that it will be a launch similar to the Tizen launch -- a complementary solution offered to the market and next, the market will decide if it has demand for it.

There are two reasons behind the assumption that they might be demand for a Samsung-Microsoft combo. First, like you said, a phone that can dock to a docking station might be in high demand in developed economies and Microsoft would be the best partner, because it has demonstrated that it sees the potential for a mobile/desktop solution with their Surface line. And second, it is easier to sell Windows in developing economies because of user familiarity.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
1/14/2015 | 3:16:06 PM
Re: All about the ecosystem
I'm definitely in support of a partnership that benefits consumers in the way of more choices, more flexibility and lower costs. Whether or not that will be the case remains to be seen as this plays out.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
1/14/2015 | 2:53:32 PM
Re: All about the ecosystem
Well said @jagibbons, as long as consumers end up benefiting from a friendship then, the friendship can stand. I feel that there is a large number of consumers that would welcome a Samsung-Microsoft combo because they would like to have a unified ecosystem will full functionality on all platforms. Are consumers willing to pay a premium for such an environment? I guess not, because the Samsung-Google combo has already shown consumers that there is no need for a premium to be in place and that they are alternatives available to fund an OS.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
1/13/2015 | 8:39:52 PM
Re: Stay with Android
If Samsung were to entirely switch to Windows Phone (not likely)

What would stop Samsung to offer phones with both Windows and Android?
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
1/13/2015 | 3:47:12 PM
Barn Doors already open.
Over eight years (two year carrier contracts) I've had a "windows" phone from HP, HTC, LG, and Samsung.  I kept buying into the "new and improved" marketing with every new release but each was terrible to use for anything particularly to make a phone call from contacts.  When Samsung offered the Galaxy Nexus I was ready and never looked back followed by the S3 and now the Note 4 each better than the last which wasn't the case for Windows Mobile/Phone.  The latest Windows Phones are competitive with all the major developers providing aps but me and many millions of others plan to never go back to a Windows Phone after experiencing eight years of hellish products.  If I were Samsung I'd tell Microsoft to go take a hike if they are not going to dismiss the past licensing claims AND pay for Samsung's R&D cost to develope a Windows Phone.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
1/13/2015 | 2:56:58 PM
Re: All about the ecosystem
I actually think Tizen would be a better strategy than Windows Phone particularly if MS insists on getting its $1Billion licensing from Samsung.  Microsoft needs Samsung more than Samsung needs Microsoft.
rradina
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rradina,
User Rank: Ninja
1/13/2015 | 1:57:49 PM
Re: All about the ecosystem
Why would Microsoft be considered the "dark side"?  Is Microsoft really in the same "evil empire" position as they once were a decade ago?
jagibbons
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50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
1/13/2015 | 12:52:09 PM
Re: All about the ecosystem
Yes, it would be a boon for Microsoft, but probably only for one buying cycle unless there are a growing number of loyal Windows Phone buyers who come back for more every 18-24 months.
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