Samsung Electronics' new CEO called for the company to redouble its focus on software, which could hint at a move away from Android and toward its own proprietary operating system.
Samsung has long desired to push its own integrated hardware and software experience, investing in its Bada operating system and selling devices in select markets. But the popularity of Android, which powers its most successful smartphone and tablet devices, including its flagship Galaxy S III phone, means the company can't exactly quit the platform.
Samsung has been steadily investing in its own proprietary software, an initiative that new CEO Kwon Oh-hyun fully supports.
In his inaugural speech, Kwon said the company needs to have particular focus on serving new customer experiences by strengthening its software capabilities, user experience, and design, according to the Wall Street Journal.
A completely integrated product would allow Samsung to have full control over every detail of the device, and wouldn't leave it so dependent on an outside company for the latest software. In addition, its own platform would allow it to stand apart from a sea of devices running on the same software.
The ideal scenario for such a model, of course, is Apple, which builds its own hardware and software with iOS. On the flip side, companies such have Research In Motion, Palm, and Nokia have struggled with their own proprietary software. Palm has largely disappeared, while Nokia switched to Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, with the struggling RIM the only one attempting to stand apart with its BlackBerry operating system.
The pressure is likely on for Samsung to develop its own operating system now that Google has officially acquired Motorola Mobility, which means its partner will also be a competitor with the potential to access earlier versions of Android. Google has said it would continue to be neutral when it comes to Android, while Samsung has said it is looking forward to the legal cover Motorola would bring to the Android community.
Privately, Samsung executives have said they expect to compete with Google on the device front, making it increasingly important to differentiate. While Samsung already customizes Android a bit with TouchWiz, the company could do more to veer away from the standard Android user experience.
Whether that's a good thing is unclear. Many Android fans prefer a "stock" experience, which leaves the software alone. But handset manufacturers believe they need to set themselves apart to avoid getting lost in the sea of generic-looking devices.
Samsung could take it a step further and move toward its own operating system. As the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world -- outselling even Apple -- it certainly has the heft and reach to pull it off.