Jean-Louis GassÃ©e raised an interesting point about whether Samsung, which, if you believe the reports, is on pace to sell between 30 million and 35 million phones from October to December, holds some sway over Google, the steward of the Android handsets Samsung has ascended to stardom with in the mobile realm.
Google Executive Eric Schmidt said at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show Jan. 10 that Samsung has become one of Google's strongest Android partners.
To wit, noting that Samsung has blown past original Android OEMs HTC and Motorola, GassÃ©e said Samsung ships some 55 percent of Android phones. That's a lot of cheddar (money) at a time when there are some 700,000 Android devices activated daily.
GassÃ©e suggested Samsung could use its influence to coax more search referral money, earlier access to Android releases, or even a a share of advertising revenue, adding:
"Just like Amazon picked the Android lock, Samsung could grab the Android open-source code and create its own unlicensed but fully legal smartphone OS and still benefit from a portion of Android apps, or it could build its own app store the way Amazon did."
Samsung could do this, but I doubt it very much that it would do this unless it felt Google was trying to impose its will on its ecosystem. If these two partners ever fell out of favor, I think it would very much a standoff between two nuclear powers of the mobile Web.
But what do I know? I didn't think Google would be so bold as to buy Motorola, a leading Android OEM. Given how much Motorola is struggling to compete with Samsung (HTC is, too), it feels like a lifeline for Motorola.
Certainly, Samsung will make sure Google doesn't abuse its position with Motorola, but GassÃ©e is right: Android is open source, so Google's leverage at this time is unclear. Samsung appears to have the muscle, but Google won't likely given them reason to use it.
Meanwhile, Om Malik has another idea of who might threaten Samsung: Huawei and ZTE, which will chomp the low-end not eaten by Samsung and its premium smartphones.