Samsung capitulates to Google over music player

Starting with the Galaxy S8 the default music player on all new Samsung mobile devices will be Google Play Music, not Samsung’s own app.

For most Android OEMs this would not be exceptional news as the Android model has always made the bundling of Google software and services a precondition of its use. But Samsung has historically resisted this, striving to establish its own alternatives at the default on its devices. This has had at best mixed results and this news implies Samsung has thrown in the towel.

Both Samsung and Google saw fit to make special announcements about the move. Both, of course, focused on how great Google Play Music is and hence what great news this is for Samsung users. To further sweeten the deal Google is offering Samsung users 100,000 tracks worth of free cloud storage (double the previous amount) and a three-month free trial of the streaming service.

For Google this is a clear win – it lags market leaders Spotify and Apple Music in terms of streaming service market share and this is likely to significantly improve that position. Samsung sold over 300 million smartphones alone last year so if even a tiny proportion of its users subscribe to Google Play Music its share will increase dramatically.

What Samsung gets out of this is less obvious. One possible clue is Google’s announcement that Play Music will work with Samsung’s new voice UI initiative, Bixby, which could be considered a competitor to the OK Google voice UI. Bixby seems to have got off to a rocky start so maybe Samsung is supporting Play Music in exchange for Google not causing problems for Bixby.

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