There were curious parallels between the two's work history. Mr.
Pendleton joined Samsung in June 2011 after more than a decade at
Nike . Mr. Wallace
joined the company that same month after 11 years at Research in
Motion (now BlackBerry). Together, they proved to be a forceful
marketing duo. Samsung's smartphone market share was 9.5% in
mid-2011, according to ComScore; 18 months later it was 21%.
Samsung, the No. 82 ranked U.S. ad spender, according to Ad Age
's DataCenter, is a demanding company culture.
Agency executives who have worked with the company report long
days, strategizing over holidays and working through weekends.
The ends seemingly justify the means, as Samsung's commercials
have been wildly popular. "The Next Big Thing Is Already Here" spot
for the Galaxy S III -- which mocked Apple fanboys -- went on to
become the second-most-viral ad video of the year.
Online-video-analytics company Visible Measures said the video has
been watched more than 71 million times.
In the summer of 2012, Mr. Wallace caught Google's attention.
The company began recruiting him to lead the global marketing team
at Motorola Mobility, the phone manufacturer it had acquired the
summer before. Google recruited -- and scrutinized -- Mr. Wallace
heavily over the next several months, culminating with his leaving
Samsung late in December.
While Mr. Wallace was busy executing his Samsung marketing plan
and being recruited by Google, Samsung was quietly teaming up with
Intel to start building an open-source mobile-operating system as
an alternative to Android.
Android, while free to manufacturers, comes with certain
parameters. Manufacturers that use Android and want access to
Google Play and Google mobile services -- Google Maps, Google
mobile search, Gmail and YouTube -- must run their devices through
a test verifying each device's compatibility with Android. The
compatibility test is to assure to app developers that their
service will work seamlessly across all Android devices. But if a
manufacturer customizes -- or "forks" -- Android beyond the
compatibility limits, the manufacturer loses direct access to
Google Play and Google mobile services.
In September 2011, the LiMo Foundation -- short for Linux Mobile
-- and the Linux Foundation announced the groups would combine
their efforts on Tizen, an open-source mobile-software project.
Samsung was a member of the LiMo Foundation board along with
Panasonic and Vodafone, among others. Subsequently, Samsung joined
Huawei, Intel, Sprint and others as part of the board for the Tizen
Association, a group dedicated to "providing a fresh platform that
offers a high level of flexibility," per the association's
Christopher Croteau, director of platform and business
development for the Tizen Association and managing director at
Intel, said that Samsung has been "a robust supporter" of Tizen.
According to Mr. Croteau, Tizen will afford the innovation
opportunities that Android and iOS purposefully inhibit.
"The general consensus is that Tizen is about flexibility, about
innovation," he said. "[Mobile software] is a fairly homogenous
situation. Android doesn't allow for a lot of innovation."
Manufacturing companies are historically bad software companies,
though. Building a popular operating system requires a massive
number of user-experience experts, which most manufacturers don't
"It's easier for a software company to build hardware than a
hardware company to build software, unequivocally," Eric Litman,
founder and CEO of ad server Medialets, said.
More information on Samsung and Google's relationship will
become apparent once Motorola releases its first phone post-Google
acquisition and Samsung releases its first phone that runs on
Samsung is scheduled to make an announcement later this month
regarding Tizen during a Tizen Association event at Mobile World
Congress in Barcelona. Tizen is optimized for regions outside the
U.S., Teri Daley, public-relations director at Samsung, said in a
Last summer, Motorola Mobility announced it was moving its
offices -- and its 3,000 workers -- from far-north Chicago suburb
Libertyville, Ill., to the top four floors of the Merchandise Mart
in downtown Chicago. Google's Chicago office sits four blocks
The move left some wondering why Google wouldn't put Motorola
and Google in the same space.
Kevin Willer helped found Google's Chicago office 12 years ago.
Now, he helps run tech-startup incubator 1871, located just several
floors below the space Motorola Mobility will soon occupy. Mr.
Willer compares the tangling between mobile-phone makers and
mobile-platform developers to the PC wars between Apple and
Microsoft of the
"90s. But he doesn't believe Google will make any rash decisions
regarding how it handles Motorola.
"Google could create all kinds of efficiencies if they put them
together, but it's important enough to [Google] to show that
Motorola is its own unit," he said. "Samsung has really been an
amazing partner for them. I wouldn't think they'd want to rock the
boat too much."
Google might be closer to Motorola than ever, but for now at
least, Google wants the world to know the two are separate.