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Samsung Gets Aggressive on Apps

Tuesday - 5/21/2013, 7:00am  ET

South Korean giant Samsung is in something of an identity crisis right now. The company is tired of being just a hardware OEM, and is hoping to move more into content and services. On the content side, Apple and Google both boast the largest app repositories known to man.

While Samsung's devices tap directly into Google Play, the company still clearly has ambitions beyond Google. In March, Samsung launched its own content portal, Samsung Content & Services. This storefront will compete head on with the App Store with features like AllShare Play or Find My Mobile, replicated from Apple's AirPlay and Find My iPhone, but also with Google Play.

The challenge for Samsung is that most of the apps in Content & Services are also available in Google Play, so users have little reason to venture into its digital store instead of Google's. That's precisely why Samsung is hosting a competition for Android developers to create Galaxy-specific apps: to help differentiate its devices from the Android competition.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Samsung is putting down $800,000 in prize money, which will be divvied up between 10 winners. One feature that Samsung is focusing on is Group Play, a Samsung-built feature exclusive to Galaxy devices that allows users to share content locally over Wi-Fi. A Samsung spokesperson confirmed that the company would continue to incentivize developers to tap other Galaxy features going forward.

Samsung wants to build its own Galaxy platform atop Android to better compete with iOS. To the extent that it can bolster Galaxy-specific features and services, it can further differentiate its gadgets from iPhones and other Androids. The best way to encourage that is by throwing a bunch of money at developers, much like how BlackBerry has also been trying to woo Android developers.

Ahead of the BlackBerry 10 launch, the company doubled the total prize money it was rewarding developers from its final "Port-A-Thon" to $2 million. BlackBerry is aggressively using ported Android apps to pad its app count, but has also been making progress recently with getting developers to go native with their BB10 offerings.

Samsung wants more Galaxy apps, and it's willing to pay for them.

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