Alliances don’t replace innovationAfter paying hefty royalties to Microsoft, Samsung Electronics agreed to join up with the U.S. tech giant to develop and market software platforms as a part of a wide patent cross-licensing deal.
The strategic move comes as the leading cell phone manufacturer positions itself in the IT battleground that calls for collaboration and marriage with the enemy in the jousting among the software powerhouses Apple, Google, and Microsoft.
The deal underscores Samsung’s leverage over Android, following Google’s multibillion-dollar acquisition of the rival mobile phone maker Motorola.
Samsung can boost and diversify its mobile operating system and application software line by adding the Windows Phone operating system to its portfolio, along with its own software and Android.
Samsung’s alliance with Microsoft places it in a better position in its patent disputes with Apple. In the longer run, computers, phones, and TVs will be interconnected and no one knows who will end up with a triumphant smile.
In the IT universe, it is unsafe to depend too much on one alliance and one technology.
Korean companies must strike alliances and build partnerships with many forces, backed by their manufacturing technology and marketing expertise.
For now, joining with Microsoft to pose a strong challenge to Apple and Android is the best move. Google cannot rely solely on Motorola phones, and none of the alliances can ignore the manufacturing standards of Korean parts and hardware producers.
But local companies should not spend too much time studying their opponents for clues to their next moves. The winner will be the company that takes the initiative in building the best technology and user-friendly wrappers. Korean companies must not forget their humiliating defeats to Apple in the past.
To remain a major player in the game, they must stick to the fundamentals of maintaining and honing their manufacturing competitiveness and continue developing operating systems and other software tools and services.
They can take over leadership only when they create a new mobile environment through innovative technology. Samsung’s partnership with Microsoft should be a stepping stone to a new frontier for Korean technology companies.