Will the Samsung Galaxy S III expand beyond Android’s ecosystem?

by Kristen Nicole

Any moment now we’ll hear from Samsung’s London event their plans for the latest Galaxy device, expected to be the S III. Speculation has been rampant, with high hopes for a 4.8-inch screen boasting a 720p Super AMOLED panel, likely a non-pentile Super AMOLED HD+ at that. A quad-core processor from Exynos or Qualcom would give the S III quite a boost, and a 12-megapixel rear camera would make it one of the best smartphone snappers on the market. The S III could also be another flagship phone for Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the latest OS version from Google that’s slowly approaching just 5 percent of the Android market.

There’s enough hype to go around, but is it enough to keep Samsung on its high horse? A year ago Samsung was just edging its way into the short list of top smartphone manufacturers, and the latest Q1 reports for 2012 show a dominant Samsung that’s toppled Apple and Nokia in 12 short months. Certainly Samsung has done well with Android, and Android has succeeded in tandem. But should Samsung keep so many eggs in the Android basket?

Is Android all there is for Samsung?

A Reuters article wonders if Samsung is commoditizing its devices by relying on the Android platform, enabling Google’s ecosystem instead of its own. But even as Samsung leverages Android to save costs on developing its own OS, they’re building out an ecosystem around their line of devices, though this strategy so far has been half-hearted. Samsung has its own Bada OS, which operates less than 3 percent of the world’s smartphones last year. And while this is more market share than Microsoft had in 2011, Bada has gained little traction.

Samsung is expected to address the ecosystem question at today’s London event with the rumored S-Cloud launch, a consumer cloud product that would store photos, music, videos and documents, and make them accessible across Samsung’s varied devices. The timing would be ripe for Samsung to get more involved in the cloud, as LG and Google both launched similar services in the past week. The biggest competitor in this space, however, remains Apple’s iCloud, which readily ties-up its own ecosystem across devices for iOS users.