What were the actual terms of the mysterious Google/Samsung deal?
It seems like everyone has formed a basic narrative about what has happened over the past two weeks. It seems like the long-rumoured "civil war" between Google and Samsung might have actually been on the verge of happening. But now the two have patched things up, and the civil war has been averted. So far so good.
But what were the actual terms of the deal?
Things that Samsung gave up
KNOWN: They will licence their existing patents, and their new patents for the next ten years, to Google.
KNOWN: They will not "fork" Android by pushing a new version of the OS that completely replaces all Google apps and services with Samsung apps and services (ie. the approach that Amazon has used).
SPECULATED: They will dial back their efforts to duplicate Google apps and services. This seems likely. But I wonder where the line is drawn? For example, will Samsung get rid of ChatON and instead promote Hangouts? Will Samsung get rid of their app store and promote Google Play? Or will Samsung keep their existing apps and services, and simply refrain from moving further in that direction? Recently there have been leaked screenshots of future Galaxy devices seemed to show what looked like Samsung's version of Google Now, which was probably one of the things that freaked Google out. Presumably this planned service will never see the light of day now.
SPECULATED: Samsung will move it's software towards a "stock-ish" direction. This is something that Android fanboys are optimistic about, but I strongly doubt that it will happen. Samsung still needs to differentiate their product. And I don't think that Google really cares about how TouchWiz looks. What they care about is Samsung trying to duplicate and replace Google services. At best, we can hope that Google has encouraged Samsung to drop some of its design practices that blatantly fragment the Android ecosystem and harm its developer community (eg. the infamous hardware menu button).
SPECULATED: They will kill Tizen. I dunno, this also strikes me as dubious. Samsung still wants to have its insurance policy. But I do expect that Tizen will be relegated to the status of a minor side project, rather than becoming a central part of Samsung's line.
Things that Google gave up
KNOWN: They will licence their existing patents, and their new patents for the next ten years, to Samsung.
KNOWN: They will continue to license their apps, including the Play Store and Google Maps, to Samsung.
KNOWN: They will sell Motorola and get out of the hardware business. This is very sad if you're a Motorola fan, but you can kinda see Samsung's point here. Although Motorola was still losing money, Samsung clearly believed that in the long run the connection to Google would give Motorola an unfair advantage over other Android OEMs. Selling Motorola is probably beneficial to the overall Android ecosystem.
(Edit: I just wanted to add in here that this blog post is a great summary of everything that has made Motorola so great over the last year or so. I really hope that other OEMs have learned some of these lessons.)
SPECULATED: Google will kill the Nexus line. I think most people (including myself) didn't put much stock in rumours from some Russian blogger that the Nexus line would die. But with this new context, it seems possible that killing the Nexus might have been another one of Samsung's conditions.
All I can say is that I really, really hope that this is not true. I know The Verge doesn't agree, but for me and many other people, the Nexus range has been the closest thing that existed over the past three years to the "perfect smartphone". And Google has never really tried to turn the Nexus range into a mass-market success: they don't advertise them, they don't sell them in a lot of countries, and they don't seek out a lot carrier deals for them. The Nexus is mostly an unlocked device for people to buy on the internet, and that's not how most people buy a phone. It's not a threat to Samsung. I can only hope that rumours are false, and that Nexus line isn't part of the deal.