Presumably, with the Pixel line going head-to-head with the Galaxy S last year the situation has changed enough that Google no longer fears that Samsung will ditch Android. It's also worth noting that the rumour here is that Google will buy specific manufacturing and hardware assets from HTC, but will not buy the brand. So it's less of a "buying the company and keeping the parts they want" situation, and more of a "buy only the parts they want" situation.
Samsung's hardware today seems better, but for a long time the galaxy phones were cheap plastic builds with unwanted software customization on top. The few Motorola phones that came out during the Google ownership were nice.
If Google had built their own hardware back then (or had even gotten Nokia) I would probably have stayed on Android. For a long time starting around iPhone 5 the Apple hardware was a lot better (prior to that Apple lacked turn by turn navigation and LTE). The Nexus One was nice, but the S wasn't great and the Galaxy Nexus was terrible enough to switch.
Now Apple seems to be winning in security and new hardware features and everything else is fairly comparable.
Difficult? Yes. Very, very difficult.
Er, what? Let's see, what we're the dominant desktop OSes back in 1997? Windows and Mac. 20 years later? Still the same. Even 30 years ago it was DOS, the direct predecessor to Windows, and Mac.
In servers, various flavours of Unix have dominated for even longer. Arguably the dominant version at any one time was just the one that was closest to being a generic Unix as possible. Incompatible 'innovation' was punished mercilessly in the market.
The problem upstart OSes have to face is that encumbent OSes have established ecosystems of hardware and software support. Look at mobile. To compete with iOS you don't just have to compete with Apple, you have to compete with a $100bn+ ecosystem of apps, peripherals and services. Same with Android. Microsoft was just a few years behind them and it was too late even for them to break through with all their resources.
Unless Google or Apple do something monumentally stupid, they're going to stay dominant for decades to come.
Secondly, I think we're in agreement about the 'dominance for decades' thing. I should have said "Very, very hard ... and will take a long time."
Think of ITS, Symbolics, VMS, HPUX, Solaris, PalmOS, CP/M, OS/2 ... all once popular, now consigned to the dustbin.
The problem is that Google has the attention span of a hamster on crack. Instead of giving a new handset platform time to grow and mature, it'll jettison the whole project before it gets a chance to gain traction.
I'm sure there'd be some loss, but Samsung would likely come out doing fine. Even if they lost some market share, their profits would likely go up in the end, since they'd be the ones pulling the app market cuts and such.
And be pleasantly surprised when none of their Google apps transfer over? Good luck with that.
Samsung might lose a percentage of the SV customerbase, but everyone who’s not relying on Google accounts wouldn’t really notice.
We'll see if this is still a problem in a couple years.
They may have invested more into Tizen: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tizen
It's a 100x more plausible that they went in with optimism, and got snagged by something unanticipated. And what's more unanticipated yet powerful, than not a law, but a competitor with deep political and financial leverage in your company's markets? Those kind of power plays happen all the time in the advertiser and entertainment world.
I remember a lot of talk about Samsung's Tizen operating system around then, so the most plausible explanation to me was that Google bought Motorola specifically to keep Samsung inline with a more stock android, end results hold up to that as well.
Of course it's always hard to figure out cause and effect, but Google never even appeared to go all in with Motorola on hardware beyond the initial purchase... smelled like a ploy.
i think google made a mistake not turning moto into googles flagship hardware, similar to the surface/dell/hp/lenovo relationship. intel does the same thing with nucs.
Also, does anybody know what the Motorola acquisition and sale cost them? They kept pieces of it, so I can't tell right away how it worked out.
Both Moto and HTC were/are way past their prime and I personally think Google should just let it die and pick up distressed assets at bargain price when it goes belly up.
It'd be also interesting if Samsung would drop Android altogether and starts using MS mobile OS.
Doing that would mean that all the experience that could have been part of the deal will already be gone.