Can Samsung Woo App Developers Away From Apple?

On Monday and Tuesday, Samsung  held its first worldwide developer conference in San Francisco. The company's goal was to convince developers to create apps specifically for Samsung devices. Samsung is looking to distance itself from Android and create an integrated software and services platform like Apple's iOS.

But it won't be an easy sell to developers.

An all-volunteer army
If there's a real incentive for developers to drop what they're creating for Apple and Android and make apps specifically for Samsung, the company's not making it very clear. While Microsoft and BlackBerry offered monetary incentives for building apps for their platforms, Samsung hasn't made the same commitment.

Despite Samsung's dominance as the world leader in smartphone sales, Android developers can make more money developing apps for all Android devices, rather than focusing on just Samsung smartphones and tablets.

Samsung's $13 billion problem
Apple's App Store has returned $13 billion to developers since its inception. That's not just marketing-speak the company throws out during product releases; it's Apple's way of telling developers, "Hey, the money's over here."

Not only can Samsung not boast of what its app store has provided to developers, the company has for years made much of its own key software and directly competed with app developers.

Let's do a quick recap on this. Developers currently have two major mobile platforms to create for: Android and iOS. Making apps specifically for Samsung would add a third platform to the mix. Meanwhile, app developers consistently prefer making their apps available on iOS first, or even exclusively. So that puts Samsung at the back of the line for app creation, and offers no real incentives for developers to push it to the front.

Building on a bad foundation
It's understandable for Samsung to want to have its own app ecosystem. The company wants to differentiate itself from the growing number of Android competitors like Xiaomi and other Chinese OEMs. If it can create software and services that are exclusive to its own devices, then it could possibly create the same customer retention and satisfaction rates that Apple enjoys.

Samsung is no longer content to be just another Android device maker. It wants to deepen its own brand and create a user experience unique to Samsung.

But all of that will take time, and massive developer adoption rates. Incentives aren't the only answer to attaining Samsung's goal, but it wouldn't hurt. Apple doesn't need to be worried by Samsung's new shift yet, but it should take note that Samsung wants to copy the iMaker's success in this area. Samsung has proved it can make great devices that rival the iPhone. But pulling off the same success for Samsung-exclusive apps may prove a much harder endeavor.

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Fool contributor Chris Neiger has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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