The at-times excruciating launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 served up some pretty telling and interesting stuff for mobile-watchers.
And we’re not talking about the backward attitudes towards women in general and women in tech in particular (something which still desperately needs addressing) or indeed the moment when we finally saw the handset that had been extensively leaked online prior to the event.
No, this was a launch about what wasn’t mentioned. At no point during the gruelling festival of inanity did anyone from Samsung mention Google Android.
Now, correct us if we’re wrong, but Google’s OS is pretty central to the whole Galaxy S4 experience, some would say integral. So, why has Sammy decided to begin cutting Google out of the picture?
Well, that question has many answers. The first lies in the series of new functions on the S4, all revealed last night.
There’s Samsung’s S Translate, which gazumps Google’s language package as it doesn’t require a web connection and works in real time; S Voice Drive, for improved in car voice controls; and a new home sync feature which is undoubtedly aimed at taking on Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox and, yes, Google Drive.
It seems that with these proprietary services, as well as hardware features such as its Orb Camera, Smart Pause and Smart Scroll, Samsung is looking to properly differentiate itself from the slew of top-end Android handsets revealed in recent months.
This is Samsung finally prepping itself to go the whole hog and offer a complete software and hardware package, just as Apple has done with the iPhone from day one.
The anecdotal evidence has been backed up by Samsung’s Vice President of Mobile, Lee Young Hee, who told Bloomberg after the Galaxy S4’s launch that Sammy would be releasing a phone using its own Tizen OS, built with Intel, in September.
The key thing here, however, is that this won’t be a budget smartphone.
Lee emphatically told the business bible that the device "will be the best product equipped with the best specifications".
Essentially, it’ll be a successor to the Galaxy S4. Samsung clearly thinks it has built its brand into such a position that it can now go it alone.
That’s brave, especially as Tizen looks a long way from being ready and lacks the app infrastructure that Android offers.
Bada, Samsung’s last proprietary OS was a disaster and what’s to say Tizen won’t be the same?
But it seems Sammy is quite happy to allow its relationship with Google to sour, letting the Big G bring its services to Tizen in the same way it does to iOS while the Korean giant looks after the wider picture. What will be telling is Google’s next move.
Chances are it’ll go hard on a new Nexus device, possibly even at its I/O event in May.
Either way, big changes are afoot in the Android smartphone world. The question is, will the public take to Samsung’s plans?