Samsung's Android-running Galaxy devices have helped make it the world's top-selling smartphone maker. But in what could easily be interpreted as its latest move to put space between itself and Android-maker Google, Samsung has introduced Galaxy Apps, an online app store that Galaxy device users can turn to instead of Google Play.
Samsung introduced the store in a July 11 blog post, saying it "features hundreds of exclusive apps," will offer Galaxy device owners greater customization, and will make promotions and discounts more easily and obviously available to owners of Galaxy devices.
"At Samsung, we continuously strive to create value for our customers by providing differentiated solutions and services coupled with innovative devices," WonPyo Hong, president of Samsung's Media Solution Center, said in a statement. "Samsung Galaxy Apps is an extension of that promise, as it offers our customers exclusive apps to enrich their experience."
Galaxy Apps is divided into three sections: Staff Picks, Exclusives and Top. The Staff picks section doesn't feel so inspired—there's no sense of actual staff members making recommendations. Top, as expected, offers views of the most downloaded apps, sortable by pricing or popularity.
Exclusives is the key area and likely a major motivation for the store's existence. (Knocking the Google name out of the picture, and encouraging users to think of apps in terms of Samsung, not Google, is surely another.)
The Exclusives section looks the most originally Samsung and the most polished. It includes sections such as Essentials, Gifts, Apps for Professionals and Specials. Essentials includes apps such as Milk Music—Samsung's new streaming music app, introduced at the launch event for Samsung's newest flagship device, the Galaxy Tab S—and SideSync, a nifty app for owners of both a Galaxy tablet and a Galaxy smartphone.
Specials offers apps that were specifically created using Samsung SDKs, the company explained in its blog post, suggesting a better user experience than standard Android apps.
The Gifts section includes free apps, as well as notable ones such as "samplers" from GQ, Vogue, and Vanity Fair that come courtesy of a special deal (also announced at the Tab S event) between Samsung and the magazines' publisher, Conde Nast. More than just excerpts, or views of magazine page layouts, the samplers are beautifully and specially rendered versions of articles made for Samsung devices.
Other gifts include exclusive offers for Galaxy device owners, such as a Wall Street Journal application that comes with a free six-month subscription.
"The battle for tablet market share isn't just about things like HD anymore; it's about making an effort on content as well," Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar WorldPanel, told eWEEK at the unveiling of the Tab S, which comes with Galaxy Apps installed and basically also uses it as one of its Home screens.
"That's refreshing," Milanesi added. "It means that if you don't bring all the fancy specs to life with great content, you're failing."
Samsung, in its blog post, said Galaxy Apps will eventually be available across 161 countries and to more than 130 million users.
Stepping Away from Google
In February, Samsung refreshed its Galaxy Gear smartwatches, slimming them down but also transitioning them from Android to Tizen, its own mobile operating system (with roots back to Intel and Nokia).
Later, in June, Samsung introduced the Samsung Z—its first smartphone to run Tizen. The phone's introduction was timed to the third annual Tizen Developer Conference in San Francisco, where the Tizen Association—which has representatives from Samsung, Fujitsu, Huawei, LG, Intel and five wireless carriers on its board—encouraged developers to create for the OS.
Intel Managing Director Christopher Croteau, at the time of the Gear smartwatches' debut, said in a statement that Intel sees a "unique role for Tizen in the industry to create and to grow a new, open and flexible mobile operating system."
The Samsung Z debuted in Russia, and reports have suggested that the next Tizen smartphone could arrive in India, where loyalty toward Android isn't yet strong.