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Day August 30, 2011

Samsung's Polyplatform Paradox

Samsung has, over the years, shipped phones using almost every operating system it could get a hold of. That includes Symbian, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, LiMo, Android, PalmOS and OPhone.

As far as I know, today its portfolio includes Android, Windows Phone and its own Bada OS. The relaxed attitude to platform exclusivity at Samsung is in stark contrast with almost all other competitors who either for the sake of encouraging their own platforms or minimizing development costs maintained either one or two smartphone platforms.

Samsung justified their polyplatform strategy a few years ago by saying that different platforms are popular in different regions and as they did not want to be excluded from any market, they felt that being agnostic is the best policy.

The idea that platforms are not universal, but the result of provincial preferences is interesting. It’s a concession that “politics” plays a large part in mobile markets. However, for all the volume growth the strategy has produced, the strategy has not paid off in terms of higher margins or pricing power as the following chart shows.