Samsung will ditch Android in latest smartwatch

The new version of Samsung’s Gear smartwatch will run on Tizen, not Google’s Android operating system, the latest attempt by the South Korean electronics giant to develop more of its own software and services, according to three people familiar with the situation.

Samsung will unveil the updated Gear watch, and a new HTML5 version of the Tizen operating system, at an event at the Mobile World Congress later this month in Barcelona, Spain, the people said.

If true, this is the first of Samsung’s devices to use the new operating system, but it won’t be the last. Google should be very worried.

  • Moeskido

    I expect Google is waiting to see how well this device actually sells before it worries too much about it.

    • I think a case can be made that Google’s reasonably worried about both Android forks and Tizen (read: any iOS and Android alternative).

      Google distanced itself (for now [cough: Nest] from the criticism that it was competing directly with Android handset manufacturers by selling Motorola.

      In the most recent quarter, Google’s ad-revenue margins shrank. If this becomes a trend, forked Android won’t help, as these builds contain few of Google’s Android revenue hooks. Google has even fewer revenue hooks in China, be it on Android or the traditional Web.

      Likely in an effort to shore up revenue streams, Google has been steadily placing more and more controls on Android (Google’s Iron Grip on Android: Not everyone’s happy about these changes to the “open” mobile OS.

      To complicate the picture further for Google, in Samsung’s most recent quarterly earnings report it was revealed that Samsung’s mobile division is hitting a bump in the road. Based on how we’ve seen Samsung act in the smartphone war, Google can’t assume that Samsung will cooperate indefinitely as Samsung has financial motivations to find the most profitable mobile OS, be it Android, Tizen, or other.

      A perfect storm for Tizen could brew with one additional catalyst: Negative user sentiment toward Google. If privacy concerns over Google’s aggregated data sources, an alternative to Android could be the right medicine at the right time. We’ll see.

  • Václav Slavík

    Google, worried? Did you use any of the Samsung devices where they were responsible for their own UI? I did, most recently their no-so-SmartTV — it is horrible. Crappy interface that reeks of incompetence, no meaningful updates (a few early on to fix the worst bugs and that was it), laden with vulnerabilities. I suppose they would stand a chance with, say, Windows phones, but on their own? They are just incredibly bad at user-facing software.

    I realize they are using Tizen here that is not developed by them only, but I wouldn’t put too much home into it. It’s Open Source in name, but well, just look at its site — this is corporate stuff. And it failed before, many times over: Maemo, Moblin, MeeGo. And now Tizen.