Galaxy Z Fold: Google forced Samsung to market new products
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Galaxy Z Fold: Google forced Samsung to market new products

While developing the interface for the first Galaxy Fold, Samsung and Google got together to discuss the beginnings of Android 12L. Then Mountain View asked Seoul for a major commitment: one smartphone per year.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 06
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 4 in hand // Source: Anthony Winner – Frandroid

Let’s go back in time to the beginning of Samsung’s adventure with foldable smartphones. Between 2014 and 2019, the release date of the first Galaxy Fold, the Seoul company worked hard on its prototypes and the UI department responsible for the interface had only one goal in mind: to strive at any cost not to confuse future users. A smartphone with a tablet.

In this spirited endeavor, Samsung met with Google, as Android Director, to present a prototype. This was told by Eugene Hong, Vice President and General Manager of Samsung and Head of the UX Team for the Mobile eXperience Business, Samsung Electronics. Gathering at IFA 2022 during a roundtable with the international media, the director told us about these first conversations between the two giants. This partly reveals why Samsung struggles to launch foldable smartphones every year.

“Will it continue every year?”

“Every time we have a new form factor we have to work with Google”asks the manager. At first, the exchanges were above all about enthusiasm. “I remember when we had our first conversation with the product team at Google and the product team at Samsung, with managers, software developers, etc. Everyone around the table started talking about this project very excitedly. As a developer, it was such a great feeling, it was full of emotion , and filled with “Wow that’s cool.” It was exciting, because we felt like we were working on a real innovation at the time.”

Then, according to Yoojin Hong, Google ended up asking Samsung to make a pretty big commitment. “From Google’s point of view, this was a very big investment. Saving all the APIs, maintenance and the whole partnership cost, right? So they really wanted to get Samsung’s commitment.”

And as far as I tell you that when Google asks for a commitment, it’s no joke: “Are we going to keep producing this phone every year? That was their question. The answer to it is obviously very complicated, we are talking about technology. We didn’t know what would happen the year we shipped the device, something crazy could happen, and it was all possible. But we are fully committed, we have decided to say that we will go through these difficulties and overcome them. So we said we would. We made a commitment at this meeting. It was such a great feeling, you know, to say, “Yeah, we’ll do that!” »the engineer loses with a laugh.

When asked if there are other brands around the table, Eugene Hong continues: “Ask Google”She says, still kidding. More seriously, Samsung’s vice president insists “As the first to act, we were able to implement important planning decisions. »

What can be interpreted from the request of Google

We are here to share good practices. Google requires Samsung to produce the Fold annually (at the time, the Flip wasn’t on the table yet), in turn Samsung was able to get its hands on what was then the early days of Android 12L. While there are undoubtedly other factors that prompted Samsung to release the Fold each year (its position as the first company to hit the market and the desire to force itself on a future strategic market or the “a range” annual refresh principle), we understand in light of this testimony that the story was one It could be completely different without the insistence of another actor, no more and no less from Google.

One wonders what changes to Google when Samsung releases a foldable version annually. It’s possible that Mountain View wanted to use Samsung as a locomotive in this market. Who was in a better position than the first smartphone vendor? Another option could be, like the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 5, which served as an experimental Wear OS 3 balloon, Google wanted to make sure Samsung wipes the grout before releasing its foldable device, the Google Pixel NotePad, not yet announced. Some may also see it as a sign that there is a monopoly player (apart from Apple) who can withstand this kind of decision.

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