Going Samsung

Just now Smashing Magazine published Introducing Samsung Internet, an article I wrote about Samsung’s Chromium 44-based default browser with the fairly unimaginative name. It also contains an interview with Samsung Internet engineer and W3C luminary Jungkee Song about the browser and the ideas behind it.

One reason I wrote this article is that I wanted to do so ever since I started to point out the existence of several versions of Chromium; some of them even cohabitating on the same device. Web developers all across the world responded with massive disinterest. (Ignoring all browsers not called Google Chrome or Safari is one of the many things that’s wrong with web development, but we’ll leave that discussion for another day.)

Working for Samsung

The other reason I wrote the article is that Samsung reached out to me and offered me a job helping the newly-established devrel team led by Dan Appelquist reach out to web developers, as well as doing some research to make sure that Samsung Internet doesn’t contain huge bugs. (You’ll hear about them once I find them.) Writing the article was a paid job.

Let me be clear: I won’t become a Samsung employee. Due to my peculiar position in the web development community I cannot afford to become a browser vendor employee; and I’m not looking for a permanent job, anyway. But I’m very much looking forward to working on this project.

So I’m still a freelancer: one whose main client happens to be Samsung and whose job description includes performing the functions of a Samsung Internet developer relation manager if an actual Samsung employee is not at hand. (And if you tell me it’s a pity about the Note 7 I’ll agree with you.)

When I write a post here on my blog I’m not representing Samsung unless I explicitly say so. My article has been approved by Samsung, but this blog post has not.

Our jobs

With that out of the way, what am I actually going to do?

Our jobs seems simple: make sure web developers test on Samsung Internet in addition to all the other browsers; make Samsung a major player on the open Web; and set up the infrastructure needed to achieve those goals.

I expect that making web developers test in Samsung Internet is going to be a major hassle. Currently they are not really in the mood for more browsers; they want more tools instead. I think that’s wrong, but there you go.

Web developers are supposed to know about browsers and test in them. Samsung Internet has a 7% mobile global browser market share right now, and in certain areas, such as Germany with 18%, a considerably higher one. That makes Samsung Internet larger than Opera Mobile (though not Mini) and Firefox for Android, browsers that web developers do sometimes test in. So why not test in Samsung Internet as well?

One obvious problem is that in order to test on Samsung Internet you need a Samsung phone. It would be useful if the browser were also available on other Android devices, but it’s not and it won’t be for quite a while. An alternative would be to give out Samsung devices, but that’s not going to happen right now either. Solving this browser access problem is at the top of my To-Do list, but I can do little to influence the process, since I’m not a Samsung employee. So I’ll write an advisory paper instead.

The problem behind the problem is that setting up a devrel team is not only a matter of selecting the right people and sending them to the right meet-ups and conferences, but also of creating a supporting infrastructure to get, say, Samsung devices out to interested web developers. Long-established devrel teams such as Microsoft’s or Google’s already have this infrastructure in place, as well as related processes, but Samsung, being fairly new to all this, does not. That’s why it’s going to take a while.

Anyway, there’s plenty to do, and I am looking forward to this new challenge. You can read my article for more practical information.

And if, in the next two years or so, you suddenly feel the overpowering urge to test all your sites in Samsung Internet you will know we succeeded.

This is the blog of Peter-Paul Koch, mobile platform strategist, consultant, and trainer. You can also follow him on Twitter.
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