Samsung continues to dominate the Android landscape, but Google has other plans when it comes to the Android 5.0 era. That makes the dueling release dates of the Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Google-backed Nexus 6 more intriguing than ever. Google has offered the Android Nexus phone for several generations, and while it’s highly lauded by platform insiders, much of the general public isn’t aware it even exists, thanks to the superior marketing efforts of fellow Android vendor Samsung. But even as the two frenemies prepare their Nexus 6 and Galaxy S6 devices, the Android platform may be about to see the reset button.
Samsung has taken advantage of Google’s zero-dollar Android system software license to quickly move forward on the hardware side without having to do any of the software heavy lifting. It’s represented a win for both companies in the marketshare category. But it’s left Samsung with less control over its own devices than it would like, and it’s left Google with almost none of the massive Android hardware revenue. It’s also resulted in a fractured platform in which Android software updates often aren’t compatible with current Android devices, and some Android phones even ship running last year’s system software.
Google has taken major steps to try to change that by working with the hardware vendors to ensure forward compatibility, but the Android platform still has something of a jalopy feel and is always in danger of becoming as much of a fractured mess as the Windows platform was in the PC era. The Android 5.0 era can be expected to come with refinements aimed at smoothing out the consistency of the platform from the ground up. Skeptics and Samsung fans might argue that it’s an attempt by Google to take back some of the hardware marketshare for itself.
Either way that battle will be fought most prominently when Google releases its own Nexus 6 Android phone before the end of the year, and Samsung subsequently launches the Galaxy S6 with a projected spring 2015 release date. Will the new Android system software run better on the Nexus 6 than on third party hardware? Will the Galaxy S6 get such a massive marketing campaign that the public won’t care? Those answers will come soon enough.