Feb 7th, 2013

There’s been a lot of talk these past few days that normals — you know, soccer mom’s and Joe Schmo’s — are now equating Android with Samsung’s Galaxy branding. This after the term “Galaxy” almost trumped “Android” in web search interest for the month of December, 2012. Shocking, I know. But does this really mean Galaxy has now become synonymous with Android? If so, could this be bad for Google’s business?

You may remember when the Motorola Droid was first released. It was the first Android phone available exclusively for Verizon Wireless and it had a marketing budget to take the Apple iPhone head-on. An onslaught of print and television ads quickly followed its release with the slogan “Droid Does” still embedded into consumer’s minds. While this seemed great for those rooting for Android’s mobile OS dominance, it quickly became an annoyance for fanboys. From that point on, it seemed like everyone was asking, “Is that one of those new ‘Droid’ phones?” No matter if it was a Motorola device or not. Android had officially became known as Droid. Today, things look much different. You’ll notice that the search term “Droid” has almost completely fallen off the graph with a web search percentage so low, it’s barely noticeable. Why the change?

Well, a new report from Localytics is now showing that the the top 10 Android devices by users is dominated largely by Samsung and their Galaxy lineup: Galaxy S3, Galaxy S2, Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Note, Galaxy Note 2, and Galaxy Y. Brand recognition is a very powerful thing among consumers. Is it really much of a stretch to think that, like the Droid back in its heyday, consumers are now associating Android (the mobile OS) with Galaxy? I don’t think they are. They could simply be associating Galaxy with Samsung’s smartphone brand. Like the iPhone is to Apple.

While I fail to see how this could be bad business for Google and Android (did the Droid branding really hurt Google in the end?), the Android OS was created with the flexibility and for the sole purpose of manufacturers to skin it, brand it, and make it their own. Unless Samsung gets so cocky they completely abandon Android and the Google Play Store in the process, Google shouldn’t be too worried what consumers call it, just so long as they don’t call it an iPhone.

I’m sure one day we’ll have a Nexus device so popular, your mom and friends will all ask, “Is that one of those Nexus phones?” In which case we’ll finally be able to turn to them and reply, “Why, yes. Yes it is.” Here’s to hoping the rumored Motorola X Phone is just such a device.

So, I’m curious. Now, that we’ve taken a good look at all these charts and graphs, is what they’re hinting at really true? Has anyone ever asked you if your non-Samsung Android phone was a “Galaxy?” Oh, and it doesn’t count if your phone is, in fact, a branded Galaxy device.

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