For some time, the tech world has speculated about the relationship between Google and its third-party OEMs, in particular Samsung. The Korean electronics giant has been fairly active promoting another Linux-based mobile operating system called Tizen, and some tech journalists have speculated that eventually Samsung will abandon Android once it properly expands its own app and multimedia ecosystem. However, now that prospect seems much less likely.
Google and Samsung have just signed a 10-year cross-license patent agreement. According to Google's Allen Lo "we’re pleased to enter into a cross-license with our partner Samsung... By working together on agreements like this, companies can reduce the potential for litigation and focus instead on innovation."
According to Jeff John Roberts of GigaOm, Lo might have been taking a stab at Apple and/or Microsoft who have opted to "...employ a controversial technique known as 'privateering' in which they arm shell companies with old patents,'" thereby breaking up a company's patent portfolio and reducing the possibility of counter-suits because such shells have no real assets. Roberts also notes the agreement did not provide any details regarding the number of patents involved. Their agreement is also a little late, since Apple has been on the winning end of recent patent lawsuits.
This cross-license could result in greater collaboration between the two companies, but to what extent is still a mystery. Samsung has been actively creating propietary "alternatives" to Google's popular in-house apps (such as the calendar, voice assistant, browser, keyboard, etc), so perhaps Google will work to better integrate their services in Galaxy devices and reduce the need to clone apps. Or, the agreement could simply be a way for both companies to protect themselves from Apple and Microsoft from further litigation.