Samsung and Microsoft team up to compete with Apple's ecosystem

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Samsung and Microsoft team up to compete with Apple's ecosystem
During the presentation of Samsung’s latest flagship, the Galaxy Note 10, there was a part that was unusual for the launch of a new Android device. That was when Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella, took the stage. The appearance was part of the announcement of a new, deeper partnership between Samsung and Microsoft. The goal? Officially, to offer a better workflow between your Galaxy smartphone and your computer. But if you’re reading between the lines, it’s about competing with Apple at what it does best.

A good smartphone experience on its own is not enough


The Android side of the smartphone world is known for its diversity. Countless manufacturers offer hardware all over the spectrum, from sleek-looking high-end phones to ones built like tanks and meant to survive even the roughest conditions. One thing Android phone makers can’t provide to their customers, however, is a comprehensive ecosystem that spans between all the devices they use daily: computers, tablets, smartwatches and so on. Now, of course, Android has tablets covered and Google also provides Wear OS, the operating system for smartwatches, although neither is really in a competitive state right now.

The most important link consumers need between their gadgets is the one between their smartphones and computers. Most working adults are either out and about and resort to their smartphones for work-related tasks or are at their desks, where a computer or a laptop takes over. Having a good synergy between the two is vital for a fluid and frustration-free workflow.
 

In that regard, right now Apple has the upper hand. After all, the company made its name with its Mac computers way before it started making iPhones. And although globally Apple’s desktop operating system market share is much lower than that of Microsoft, plenty of companies work exclusively with Apple’s computer hardware, whether that’s Macs or MacBook laptops. This naturally makes iPhones the preferred mobile devices for the people that work in such environments. 

A match made in tech heaven


So, what’s your alternative if you’re not willing to be part of Apple’s ecosystem? Well, we all know what happened to Microsoft’s attempt at making smartphone software. It currently holds less than 1% of the market. You have Android dominating the smartphone OS and Microsoft doing the same when it comes to computers. It only seems logical then that the solution is for those two operating systems to start working together. That’s easier said than done, however.
 
Android is represented by hundreds of different hardware manufacturers. Luckily, there are only a few that hold most of the market and the biggest one is Samsung. It seems Samsung has polished its smartphones to a point where it feels comfortable focusing on the added value they can provide. It launched its desktop experience for smartphones called DeX a couple of years ago but apparently having a PC-looking version of your phone that you can operate with a keyboard and mouse is not quite enough. So this year, the tech giant is bringing in the big boys to help. Now you can connect your Galaxy Note to a laptop or a computer and have a sort of multiplatform experience, but beyond that, Microsoft apps like Your Phone, Outlook and One Drive will work even better with Samsung phones.
 
While that is not as ideal as having both devices made by the same company, it certainly is a step in the right direction. Sure, not everyone is excited about having to rely on Microsoft’s solutions for better PC-smartphone cooperation, but the options are very limited if you want to go mainstream. Google has its Chrome OS which powers a small percentage of notebooks, including some made by Samsung, but it has a long way before it can be a viable alternative to Windows. For the time being Samsung has chosen team Microsoft, but how deep can that partnership go?

Will we see a dual-boot Samsung phone in the future?


With high-end smartphones becoming as powerful as some laptops, new opportunities open for brands to improve the capabilities of their products. DeX mode is Samsung’s current desktop experience, but what if it’s just a stepping stone for something else? Once people are familiar with using their phone with PC peripherals it might be time to introduce them to something else that's familiar: Windows. 

Imagine that: you’re out and about using your Galaxy Note 11 (we’re talking about the future after all) as you’re used to, then you get to the office, plug in the USB Type-C cable to a suitable monitor (or a docking station) and you’re greeted with the familiar Windows interface, complete with all the well-known apps you've come to expect with it. While that may have sounded ridiculous just a few years ago, now, following the recent announcements, it might be the next logical step. Sure, for some workloads a phone will never be powerful enough to replace a PC, but plenty of users never launch more than a text editor and a browser on their computers. 

But why get Windows involved at all then? Well, for one, the aforementioned familiarity. No need to learn the ins and outs of a new desktop solution along with all its quirks. Secondly, it allows access to another ecosystem that's even richer than Android and well-established in the professional world. A high-end smartphone from the future could well be good enough to completely replace a desktop PC for at least some users. Sure, no one will throw away their existing one and put a dock for their smartphone instead, but once the time comes for an upgrade, people might think twice if they really need to spend the extra money or their phone will work just fine as a replacement. And it's not surprising that if such a time comes, Microsoft would want to remain relevant by cooperating with the biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world.
  

Obviously, this being a hypothetical scenario, it's hard to tell what sort of Windows implementation will be suitable for the task. Microsoft has its fair share of experience with mobile devices and an R&D budget few companies can afford, so the task of tailoring a version of Windows for Samsung's phones is not an impossible one. After all, what’s a more seamless workflow between your smartphone and computer than your smartphone being your computer as well? Your files are already there, your apps, messages, everything is ready to be accessed, just from a different operating system. 

Of course, that doesn't mean the two companies would stop working on improving the current solution. Surely, they want to deliver an even better experience when using your computer with your Galaxy phone, even if its one of their cheaper devices. But the added functionality of a standalone Windows on board might be the move that seriously challenges Apple. But let's not forget the other advantage Apple has — the suite of creative software that’s only available for its operating system. That exclusivity isn't going away anytime soon. Still, on Windows, there are viable alternatives to all of them, which makes it the next best thing.

An intriguing future lies ahead


Will other Android phone makers seek partnership with Microsoft? Huawei is already working with the software giant for the development of its MateBook laptops so it won’t be surprising to see the cooperation extended to its smartphones as well if the trade war between China and the US doesn’t get in the way that is. Or will Google find a way to make its ChromeOS mainstream and take a sizable chunk of the PC market for itself? Either way, it will be quite interesting to see how things will progress on that front in the next couple of years.

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45 Comments

1. afrohoxha

Posts: 264; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

There is kde connect App for linux users which integrates android phones with linux desktops. You get notifications, replies, file sharing, command execution, media control ( phone to desktop, desktop to phone), browser control and lots of extras. So with little effort you can replicate 'Apple integration' even on linux.

22. TheOracle1

Posts: 2340; Member since: May 04, 2015

Wait a minute. All my Google apps already sync across my pc, tablet and phone. Chrome, Playstore, documents, YouTube, Voice, Hangouts, Gboard, Contacts, Music, Drive etc etc. The same is true for my Microsoft Android apps. What's this myth that only IOS has the capability?

49. blingblingthing

Posts: 980; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

Apple fans - you get all your files conveniently across all those devices and it's not a Mac? You must a computer programmer or IT wiz to do this with an iPhone.

36. oldskool50 unregistered

Yes you can. But Linux isn't used on that many desktops to make it worth the time. :-)

2. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 711; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

It is good that Samsung is cooperating with Microsoft. This will put pressure on Apple to speed up in vanishing the borders between Smartphone, Tablet and Mac. Right now, Apple artificially slows down that process in order to continue to sell three devices to consumers.

18. midan

Posts: 3112; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"Apple artificially slows down that process in order to continue to sell three devices to consumers." Apple sells three devices to consumers because they all have purpose and Apple doesn't want to offer compromised experience.

26. Vancetastic

Posts: 1752; Member since: May 17, 2017

"Ouch!! Please don't be even a tiny bit critical of Apple!! It hurtsss ussss!!!"

37. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 711; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

Sorry but that is not true. Apple could make a great Mac experience with iPad Pro 12.9”. Or at least upgrade iPad OS so that only real Power users would need to purchase an additional Mac.

38. oldskool50 unregistered

What's the prupose? To make money? You mean liek the compromised experience with the crappy modem inside the iPhone X models? The one they slowed down because it really doesn't work? You mean how you can't plug an iphone directly into a Mac because Apple dropped all the USB connectiosn for USb Type C, yet doesn't include a dongle in the box with the phone? You mean how every mac model has a different power cord, even though they all could just use the same one? You mean not compromised in how AirPlay is junk when PC and phones have a standard capability for communication that is actually better than AirPlay? Actually you are right, Appeal does have a purpose in providing 3 devices. Its called 3 ways to keep money coming. Midan please explain this. I agreed with Apple that when the Surface first appeared with ARm chips, that it was sorta a confusing device, Buy the Surface runs now the same desktop Windows as any other PC. But APple says, the Surface is a Windows computer that is bad at being a laptop and a tablet. So now that the iPad has keyboard and mouse support, how is the iPad any different? In fact, if the finger is a betetr pointing device according to Steve Jobs, why does an iPad have mouse and keyboard and pen support? Oh and answer this. A Surface can do ANYTHING and iPad can do, and lots of things they can't. Just like the iPad can do a few things the Surface can't or does them betetr in some cases. But compare an $800 iPad Pro to a $800 Surface Pro and can you say for the same price point the Ipad is equal to or better than a Surface pro? be honest. An iPad with OSX woudl be completely awesome. if Apple has done that you all would be kissing Apple bite. But because Microsoft did it first, you all have a problem with it. The DeX capability of Samsung's Note and now Tab S is an awesome thing. An iPhone that could plug directly into any display and then run maybe OSX without AirPlay would be awesome.

3. Tizo101

Posts: 597; Member since: Jun 05, 2015

My laptop has been off for more than a week now... I pretty much do everything on my phone now. If Microsoft has a reason to be worried it should be that and not integration.

19. midan

Posts: 3112; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Sounds like you should try/buy a tablet. When i was in same situation i thought why i'm doing these things with my small phone screen if i could do all the same and more with bigger screen. Then i bought iPad and it's been my main "computer" for many years already. I still also have desktop PC for heavy work.

39. oldskool50 unregistered

Because a smartphone is more mobile than a tablet. It's not about the size of the screen.

28. Fred3

Posts: 582; Member since: Jan 16, 2018

Which is why they tried with the windows phone. The lack of apps is one main reason they failed other than that they had some good ones

4. DolmioMan

Posts: 345; Member since: Jan 08, 2018

Unless they sit in the same offices every day then they can’t.

5. whatev

Posts: 2410; Member since: Oct 28, 2015

Omg, Samsung fans, you better try to make Microsoft stay away from Samsung, remember what they did to Nokia and everything they touch :S

11. iushnt

Posts: 3151; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

It’s the companies who does those decisions not fans!!

6. Mike88

Posts: 438; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

It's a misconception that people buy iPhones for the ecosystem... Google oems are trying so hard to break the apple code by making people speak up about why they buy apple products but trust me it's not gonna work. Android has no idea what are they doing wrong and no matter what they do it can't be fixed until they change everything

7. strawberry

Posts: 123; Member since: Feb 20, 2019

true, so far no manufacturers get the real reasons why Apple sheep are so loyal! if they get it, they will attack that areas and draw the sheep into the android ayatem

23. apple-rulz

Posts: 2198; Member since: Dec 27, 2016

You're upset that your favorite OS and brand doesn't do as well as Apple, and so you have to counter with "sheep". You are an embarrassment to yourself.

27. Vancetastic

Posts: 1752; Member since: May 17, 2017

Are you scared? You sound scared.

10. Silva5 unregistered

If Apple customers aren’t buying Apple products for the ecosystem, then what IS the reason (according to you) so many people buy Apple products? Your comment implies you know what the answer is, yet you don’t provide one...

14. mrochester

Posts: 1036; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

I buy Apple products specifically to avoid having to use android or any other google product. If Samsung created an ecosystem of devices that didn’t rely on anything google related, I would be willing to give it a go because they already make lovely hardware. It’s just the software that spoils it.

21. midan

Posts: 3112; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"It's a misconception that people buy iPhones for the ecosystem... " It's not, it's exactly the reason for many. It's very hard to leave from Apple ecosystem when everything works so well together. But if we talk about new users or people who only own one Apple device, it's mostly the user experience which users like.

50. oldskool50 unregistered

No. Its hard to leave because if you want iOS, you have nowhere to go. If you want an iPhone, you have nowhere else to go. You can't leave because all your exclusive apps only work on one phone. All your videos only work on one phone. Others are too stupid to leave. And you don't have to leave. The good things about Apple platform, are. It good enough to usurp the bad.

53. mrochester

Posts: 1036; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Its the same for Android. If you want android you have to buy an android phone, and if you move away from android you lose access to all of your exclusive android apps.

56. midan

Posts: 3112; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Luckily people don’t feel to leave, Apple have made it very easy to stay in iOS ecosystem. iPhone loyalty is record high currently according to fresh research. Not surprised.

52. riteshrkm

Posts: 164; Member since: Apr 15, 2015

It is a misconception indeed. I can only speak about my country. People in India bcoz they want a phone which is a brand or status symbol U can say. Or there is another group of people who buy it because it can do basic features for years without breaking down. that is the reason even today iPhone 6s n 7 is the highest selling phone here. Very few gives a damn about ecosystem. They sync everything in Google even being in iPhone because other devices they use in there day to day life is not IOS.

25. midan

Posts: 3112; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"Android has no idea what are they doing wrong and no matter what they do it can't be fixed until they change everything" This is true, the thing with iOS is that it has never really changed, it still has that same user experience which changed the industry a long time ago with the first iOS. They added lot of new features over the years, but it still has that same user experience and feel. Android users in these forums always talk about how iOS isn't changing. That's Exactly why it's so popular and liked by hundreds of millions of people. The core of iOS experience is still there after all these years. Just like what happened with Windows before they broke the experience and made people very mad with their tiles design and all. They broke the familiar user experience which people liked and been using since first Windows. Now they have fixed it again and went to back to old one. I'm not sure if anyone really use those tiles?

40. oldskool50 unregistered

Considering that it took Apple 10 years to get 1.2Billion devices sold runnign IOs, and in the same amount of time google doubled that number to where Android is running on 2.8Billion devices, I would say google actually did everything right. Google also has a far better ecosystem because its cross-platform, and what si what Microsoft is doing with Samsung. They are bringing more corss-platfrom compatibility.

54. mrochester

Posts: 1036; Member since: Aug 17, 2014

Android will always appear on more devices because it is given away for free. The problem with that model for us consumers is that it has completely destroyed competition. Apple are the only company that has been able to withstand the onslaught (and thank goodness they have so we actually have a choice to not use android!).

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