Samsung Inc’s Venture Investment Corporation (Samsung Ventures) has made a strategic investment into Cloudant, a distributed database-as-a-service (DBaaS) specialist. On the surface, Samsung Ventures’ investment serves to accelerate Cloudant’s efforts in building ”global data distribution technologies and mobile application data management.”
The total amount invested was not disclosed, but Samasung was bullish on move and called Cloudant’s technology “especially critical for large enterprise businesses…[in managing] the proliferation of data to be created by, mobile devices, machine-to-machine technologies, and the ‘Internet of things’ in the future.”
Cloudant’s secret sauce for DBaaS allows the service to load, store and analyze data for app for developers and large Web-based or mobile applications. Cloudant CEO Derek Schottle was pleased at Samsung’s interest and said the investment would go into R&D “especially in the mobile technology platform.”
Is there a hidden agenda in Samsung’s seemingly innocuous investment? Highly likely.
Samsung’s most interesting moves are happening behind the scenes. Nearly a year ago, in April 2012, Samsung picked up Advanced Micro Devices talent, which subtly hinted at Samsung’s efforts to build more robust silicon, potentially even competing with Intel. Today, it seems more likely that Samsung’s efforts are focused on the mobile processor space, since this past January, Samsung claimed the top spot in semiconductor consumption, grabbing a sizable chunk of a $44.3 billion market it shares with Apple Inc.. This January also saw Samsung chewing away at Apple’s market share, with 7.9 million Galaxy devices shipped in Q4 2012 alone — a increase of 263 percent increase, giving Samsung just over 15 percent of total tablet market share.
Samsung has continued to target Apple with an ever-expanding line of Galaxy phones, and an advertising blitz to boot. But snazzy, snappy devices with larger-than-life screens cannot compete against Apple’s bread and butter — the vertically integrated software stack. There is no iCloud for Android and there is no ubiquitously integrated environment that links and backs-up user data for Galaxy devices — users are at the mercy of 3rd party solutions. For all of Android’s strengths and Samsung’s polish, it still lacking that much-needed glue.
But that may change. While the official release says Cloudant’s technology will target the enterprise space, it’s also perfectly suited for managing mobile device and syncing their sensitive application data, so consider the following: Samsung may bring an enterprise-level iCloud solution to the market, which is not unrealistic, since many of Samsung’s adverts focus on the business and security-ready aspect of its devices. More importantly, if Samsung rolls-out devices with mobile data syncing built-in, it could offset Apple’s edge in marketplace, both for business users and consumers alike. This battleground is critical, especially as Apple quietly upgrades devices for the business world.
Unless Samsung has some an innovative offering that will leapfrog the industry, emulating Apple’s model is its best bet in creating a product that can competes on a feature-for-feature level — and potentially — reclaim a niche market from Apple.
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