Google exec: Samsung rules Android but that’s OK with us

by Doug Drinkwater

May 31 2013

Android and Chrome head Sundar Pichai was speaking at the D11 conference
Android and Chrome head Sundar Pichai was speaking at the D11 conference

Samsung is dominating Android smartphone and tablet sales but that’s no problem for Android and Chrome head Sundar Pichai.

Speaking to veteran tech journalist Walt Mossberg at the D11 conference yesterday, Pichai spoke on a number of matters, from the possible convergence of the Android and Chrome operating systems to Google’s relationship with Samsung.

When quizzed on the latter, Pichai – who replaced Andy Rubin as head of Android in March – had kind words to say, even comparing the relationship to Microsoft and Intel’s famed 'Wintel' alliance.

“They’re a very close partner and we actually owe a lot of success in Android to Samsung’s scale in the mobile space,” said Pichai.

“If you look at the industry. Companies like Microsoft and Intel have had a good structural partnership that has lasted many, many years, and from our standpoint we see it working in the same way. We know we’re working on products [together] for the next 12-18 months, so that collaboration is getting deeper.”

The Google exec even seemed unperturbed at Samsung customizing the Android user interface to promote their own services, rather than Google's.

“Android is designed so people can customize the UI layer a lot, but what we want to make sure is that there is some commonality when users switch device,” added Pichai.

The Android head was less guarded on Google’s relationship with Amazon, saying that the firm hopes to work “closer together” on the Kindle Fire tablet (which runs a forked version of Android), but maintained that the search giant's own-brand Nexus devices will continue.

“The goal behind Nexus is to invest in cutting-edge hardware along with our partners and to guide the ecosystem. That will continue.”

Pichai even hinted that Android and Chrome could converge at some point in future, as has been heavily rumored in the past.

“We feel fortunate to have two platforms that are doing well. They do represent different viewpoints and given how well both are doing, we feel comfortable having both around. Our plan isn't to change course now.

“But when we look ahead and see how much computing is changing, I do think that there are synergies [of Android and Chrome] that could converge in interesting ways.”

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