During the development of the interface of the first Galaxy Fold, Samsung and Google met to talk about the beginnings of Android 12L. The Mountain View firm then asked the Seoul firm for a big commitment: one smartphone per year.
Let’s go back in time to the beginning of Samsung’s adventure with folding smartphones. Between 2014 and 2019, the launch date of the first Galaxy Fold, the Seoul firm worked hard on its prototypes and the UI department in charge of the interface had only one goal in mind: to seek at all costs that future users do not confuse the smartphone with a tablet.
In this fiery search, Samsung met with Google, as the administrator of Android, to present a prototype. So told us Yoojin Hong, Vice President and General Manager of Samsung and Head of Mobile eXperience Business UX Team, Samsung Electronics. Gathered at IFA 2022 during a round table with international media, the manager told us about these first conversations between the two giants. These reveal in part why Samsung strives to release foldable smartphones every year.
“Are you going to continue every year? »
“Every time we have a new form factor, we have to work with Google”asks the manager. At first, the exchanges are mostly about enthusiasm. “I remember when we had our first conversation with the Google product team and the Samsung product team, with managers, software developers, etc. everyone around the table started talking about this project with great enthusiasm. And as a developer, it was a really nice feeling, I was full of passion, full of ‘wow, this is amazing.’ It was exciting, because we felt like we were working on real innovation at the time. »
Then, still according to Yoojin Hong, Google ended up asking Samsung for a very big commitment. “From Google’s perspective, this was a very large investment. Providing all the APIs, the maintenance, the whole association itself is a cost, isn’t it? So they really wanted Samsung’s commitment. »
And so much to tell you that when Google asks you for a commitment, it’s not a joke: “Are we going to keep producing this phone every year? It was his question. Obviously it was very difficult to answer them, we are talking about technology. We didn’t know what was going to happen the year we shipped the device, something crazy could happen, anything was possible. But we are totally committed, we have decided to say that we will go through and overcome these difficulties. So we said we were going to do it. We made a compromise at this meeting. It was a nice feeling, you know, to say, ‘yeah, we’ll do it!’ »the engineer let out with a laugh.
When asked about the presence of other brands around the table, Yoojin Hong gets in touch: “Ask Google”she says, still joking. Seriously speaking, Samsung’s vice president insists that “As the first to move, we were able to implement important planning decisions. »
What can be interpreted from the Google request
We are here before an exchange of good practices. Google asks Samsung to produce one Fold a year (at the time, the Flip wasn’t on the table yet), in exchange for which Samsung was able to get their hands on what was then the start of Android 12L. While there are undoubtedly other factors that have led Samsung to launch a Fold every year (its first-to-market position and desire to assert itself in a future strategic market or the very principle of the annual update of ‘ a range’). ), we understand in light of this testimony that the story could have been very different without the insistence of another actor, neither more nor less than Google.
One wonders what changes for Google that Samsung launches a Fold a year. It is possible that the Mountain View company wanted to use Samsung as a locomotive in this market. Who was better placed than the number one smartphone vendor? Another option could be that, like the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 5, which served as a test balloon for Wear OS 3, Google wanted to make sure Samsung cleaned up the plaster before releasing its own foldable, the Google Pixel NotePad. , not yet. Announced. Some may also see it as a sign of a monopolistic player (other than Apple) that can afford to impose this type of decision.
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