In case you’ve missed last week’s news, it seems Windows 11 will be able to run Android apps in a somewhat native fashion. While we’re reserving our judgment for how this functionality will actually work in practice, it’s definitely not too early to wonder: Why isn’t Samsung all over this initiative? With, like, support and stuff?
Given the sheer volume of phone-to-PC-to-phone-to-awkward-paperweight-accessories-to-phone-and-back-to-PC solutions Samsung put out over the last half a decade, you’d think the Korean giant would be thrilled to find out someone’s finally doing something serious in the Android desktop emulation space. And yet, the seemingly killer feature of Windows 11 appears to be launching with zero involvement on Samsung’s part. How could that be?
Let’s face it: Samsung and Microsoft are a natural fit
Samsung and Microsoft are hardly strangers, what with both being among history’s largest companies both in the tech space and beyond. And both have been trying to bridge the gap between desktops and mobile for a good few years now. Microsoft has been the most successful of the two in that endeavor, at least based on my anecdotal experience with the Your Phone app, which I find to be miles ahead of Samsung Flow and similar solutions. The prospect of connecting smartphones and desktops seems like a pretty straightforward ambition to pursue, just for the sheer convenience of it all.
But Microsoft’s latest exploits in the space are being backed by Amazon, not Samsung. Making it pretty clear that Redmond wasn’t too picky when it came to deciding who to partner up with. Not that Amazon is some small-time company but as far as Android expertise is concerned, they’re about as desirable of a partner as Barnes and Noble. Sure, they’ve had some success in the space, but their view of Android is nothing like what the average consumer perceives the platform to be.
At the same time, Samsung has been making strides toward turning DeX into something that’s actually useful, which is quite an achievement, considering how gimmicky the solution felt only a couple years prior. There’s zero doubt in my mind that Microsoft and Samsung had some talks over the former’s foray into the world of Android emulation; the Galaxy Store might not be the best thing ever but it’s still way more user-friendly than Amazon’s Play Store rival. Not to mention readily available on a huge number of currently active mobile devices – by default.
Sure, Amazon’s marketplace has a potentially wider reach by virtue of being available on every Android device. But remember, we’re talking about emulation here, not a like-for-like replacement for the Your Phone app. Not to mention that the specifics of how Windows 11 will emulate Android apps are still hazy, to say the least.
From Android apps to foldable phones, we’ve been clamoring for a tighter Samsung-Microsoft partnership for some time now. It’s just not happening, however, for reasons probably unbeknownst even to most staffers at the two companies. None of this is to say Samsung won’t be joining Microsoft’s efforts to connect desktops and smartphones in the future. But the fact that they won’t be there from day one likely signals that their vision for the future of Android, on the whole, isn’t too close to what Microsoft has in mind for the ecosystem.