Hugh Pickens writes "For the past three years, Android has experienced a kind of free space expansion, but as we enter 2012, it seems the game may be changing. Instead of the old 'there's more than enough room for every Android handset maker to be a winner,' we have a three-horse's-length leader: Samsung shipping close to 55% of all Android phones, while Motorola and HTC lag behind. '[Samsung] could be in a position to twist Google's arm,' writes Jean-Louis Gassée.'If last quarter's trend continues — if Motorola and HTC lose even more ground — Samsung's bargaining position will become even stronger.' But what is Samsung's 'bargaining position'? What could they want? Perhaps more search referral money, earlier access to Android releases, or a share of advertising revenue. Will Google let Samsung gain the upper hand? It's not likely, because Motorola is about to become a fully-owned but 'independent' Google subsidiary, and its 16% of the Android market could counterbalance Samsung's influence to some extent. So what could Samsung do? 'Consider the Kindle Fire example: Just like Amazon picked the Android lock, Samsung could grab the Android Open Source code and create its own unlicensed but fully legal smartphone OS and still benefit from a portion of Android apps, or it could build its own app store the way Amazon did,' writes Gassée. 'Samsung is a tough, determined fighter and won't let Google dictate its future. The same can be said of Google. This is going to be interesting.'"
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