Samsung steps out from behind Google to woo developers

Oct 29, 2013 by Glenn Chapman
Pedestrians walk past a sign board advertising Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 3 smartphone at a railway station in Seoul on October 25, 2013

Samsung courted "app" makers at its first developers conference, stepping out of Google's shadow when it comes to software powering mobile devices.

About 1,300 people attending the event, which continues through Tuesday at the Westin St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, delved into techniques for making applications that work across an array of Samsung devices.

"Samsung is really trying to get people excited about their platform," said independent Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle.

"Samsung has been trying to pull a lot of the emphasis away from Google and get developers to be loyal to them and not Google."

"There are close to half a billion connected devices in the world today, yet a very limited portion are actually connected to each other," said Samsung media solution center president Won-Pyo Hong.

"Samsung is creating one of the largest connected platforms spanning a broad range of devices that people love and use every day, including smartphones, tablets, TVs and much more."

During a keynote presentation Monday in a packed ballroom, Samsung executives showed off new software development kits but there was little mention of Android, the Google-made operating system on which the South Korean company's smartphone empire stands.

Google consistently draws thousands of developers to sold-out annual conferences in San Francisco where software wizards hone skills for building fun, functional or hip "apps" for devices powered by the California Internet giant's operating systems.

Sessions at the Samsung conference included many devoted to customized Android operating software.

The South Korean consumer electronic titan is also developing its own Tizen operating system and likely wants developers making apps for it before products hit the market, according to Enderle.

"Samsung wants more control of the Android platform and Google doesn't like that they are so dominant," the analyst said. "There is a tug-of-war going on."

The stakes were raised by Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility, maker of sophisticated Moto X smartphones power by Android software.

Pedestrians walk past a sign board advertising Samsung Electronics' Galaxy Note 3 smartphone at a railway station in Seoul on October 25, 2013.

Samsung stressed the breadth of the company's consumer electronics offerings and the potential for applications that let people connect devices for "multiscreen" experiences.

"Going forward, the application you develop will be reached across all of our devices, not just smartphones, tablets and PCs," said Samsung Telecommunications America president Gregory Lee.

"There are so many opportunities for convergence."

Samsung Electronics released new kits for creating consumer or business applications on the company's smartphones, tablets, and smart television screens.

Samsung is the top maker of mobile devices powered by Google's free Android opperating system, which dominates the global market.

"We are committed to accelerating Android app ," Samsung media solutions center America senior vice president Curtis Sasaki said in a welcoming note to developers.

He promised the company would show developers "an exciting future of possibilities."

"Beyond mobile and TV, Samsung is investing heavily in frontier technologies including, wearables and much more," Sasaki said.

The conference boasts a line-up of sessions about tailoring applications for Samsung devices and opportunities to dive deep into topics with engineers from the company.

"You will get a chance to get insights into Samsung," Lee promised the audience.

A Samsung Galaxy Nexus phone on display at a Sprint store on April 27, 2012 in San Francisco

The keynote included a Twitter engineer showing off a new application tailored for Samsung devices and testimonials from companies such as eBay, Autodesk, Zillow, and Cie Games,.

Samsung reported last week that its net profit spiked to another record in the third quarter, driven by soaring revenue from memory chip sales.

The world's largest technology firm by revenue said July-September net profit rose to 8.24 trillion won ($7.8 billion), from 6.56 billion won a year ago.

Stagnant growth in sales of the company's flagship Galaxy S smartphones was offset by strong sales growth in the cheaper end of the smartphone market.

The semiconductor business saw the biggest gains, with a 12 percent spike in revenue over the previous quarter to 9.74 trillion won.

Samsung's mobile unit still accounted for two-thirds of the company's operating profit in the third quarter, but has been slowing down as the market for premium smartphones becomes increasingly crowded and prices drop.

Analysts estimate Samsung sold between 85 million to 89 million smartphones during the quarter, including the company's latest Galaxy S4 .

Samsung's consumer electronics unit—the company's second largest in terms of sales—continued to struggle in squeezing out profits.

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