Samsung is building a platform without an OS

Samsung Is Quietly Building An Immense Platform To Connect All It’s Wares

Samsung’s been around so long, and done so much in the field of consumer technology that we don’t really need to extoll the place it has made for itself.
The recent Samsung Galaxy S8 launch event however, provided a glimpse into the mega-brand’s long-term strategy, and we thought that you’d want to know about the behemoth’s gameplan.

Over the years Samsung has built an intriguingly wide network of tech consumer products. which includes smartphones, tablets, wearables, PCs, TVs and other such electronics that we end up using through our everyday lives.
Thing is, this array of products places Samsung in a unique position to build the most comprehensive web of connected hardware, of all existing brands and their inventories.

Up until now though, Samsung has not leveraged the power of this unique capability, and have largely focused on building new, independent product lines, and driving them into our homes.

That seems to be changing.

An example of this would be the new Samsung Pass, which moves beyond the simple (though critical) capability of digital payments offered in Samsung Pay, to a complete multi-factor biometric-capable identity and verification solution.
In addition, it also appears to be compatible with the FIDO Alliance standard for the passing of identity credentials between devices and across web services, which can be expected to be a critical capability in the future.

Another example would be that of the Bixby assistant on the Galaxy S8.
It does provide the assistant capabilities quite like the others on the market, but it also has potential ties in with other Samsung hardware.
Basically what we can see in the future is that you would be able to tell your Samsung powered Bixby to control your other Samsung powered devices without the need to go via a hub or ‘Google Home’ kind of middle-gadget.

This approach goes against what has been the traditional thinking within the tech industry so far – to build your own viable network, you must base it on an operating system of your own. Companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Google have successfully turned their OS offerings into platforms and then leveraging them to provide additional revenue-generating services, as well as control who could access the users of their platforms, and how.

There have been companies, like Blackberry, HP and LG (with WebOS), and even Samsung that have failed to replicate this OS-to-platform strategy.
Over the recent years, however, there also have been platforms that have been built without the base of an OS. This includes Amazon, which has built a network on the base of the capabilities of it’s own assistant called Alexa, and Facebook, which has been build on the base of its outreach.

Samsung’s attempts going forward might give these two some significant competition.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not the first time that Samsung is trying something of the kind. They did try to connect their gadgets and build a platform with their OS, Tizen, but that approach was quite similar to what others have been successfully doing.
In an already existing market of OS based platforms, Tizen didn’t quite take off as Samsung would have wanted for it to.

The renewed efforts, with this approach, could be expected to be more fruitful.

One could argue that Apple and Google are doing something similar. They too have a wide array of products, and most their devices are connected to each other, functioning quite like a platform. What would make Samsung different from Apple’s and Google’s platforms would be that unlike iOS and Android being the glue that connects all the products, Samsung’s world would not rely on the OS as being the base of it’s integrated platform.

However, building a platform of this kind cannot be done solely by one company, regardless of how big it is. Even though Samsung’s existing market share gives them a better-than-fighting-chance, they will need to be ready to work proactively with partners, and competitors, to make their connected device platform viable.

Given how Samsung has been working of late, they might already have reconciled to this reality, and seem ready to extend their network to cars. The recent purchase of Harman, a major automotive component supplier, could be the appropriate push into that space.

All said, it’s good to see Samsung make inroads into something that’s been a long-term dream of many a tech enthusiast.

We just hope they realise that TouchWiz either needs to be lent out to pasture, or else, needs a major run-in with some savvy developers, so that it’s fleet-footed and capable enough to be more than just a source of mirth.


Also published on Medium.