If you want to look for the real world, modern-day equivalent of Game of Thrones, look no further than the tech industry today. You’ve got treachery, backstabbing, power grabs, open (patent) wars, and makeshift alliances enough to fill hundreds of books. Today, we have a particularly juicy announcement that is just loaded with subtext and implications.
Samsung and Google, doubtless two of the hottest, biggest companies in tech now, have joined forces in the most significant way short of a merger. They’ve signed a broad agreement that will grant the two access to much of each other’s patents. The agreement covers existing patents as well as any patents secured during the next ten years. Basically, Google and Samsung are pooling their R&D resources without actually becoming a single entity.
It works for both. Despite the occasional Moto X or Nexus device, hardware sales isn’t really Google’s game, so it’s not like Google and Samsung are fierce competitors. And, with Samsung devices becoming the most popular home for the Android operating system, it makes a lot of sense for Google and Samsung to help each other out as much as possible. It also frees both up to specialize more – Samsung could start work on some of the more experimental hardware projects that Google has stashed away, while Google can focus on services, advertising, and software.
It’s hard to tell exactly what shape this agreement will take, but it’s almost certainly a swipe at Apple, a long-time adversary in the patent wars for both Google and especially Samsung. Unlike the symbiotic relationship that Google and Samsung enjoy (for the most part), neither company has any sort of reason to cooperate with Apple, a clear rival for both. Perhaps Google and Samsung sense some weakness in Apple, especially because the newest categories of devices – smart TVs and wearable tech, for example – are not coming out of Cupertino. Pooling resources would be a great way to give a boost to both Samsung and Google at the expense of Apple – and something tells me neither company is negotiating a similar agreement with Apple at the moment.