Samsung Gear S-40

AH Primetime: Samsung Gear S Smartwatch Has Arrived But Where Is The Android Wear?

August 28, 2014 - Written By Kristijan Lucic

Alright, so… Samsung announced a rather good looking Gear S smartwatch with a 2-inch curved AMOLED screen recently and decided to run Tizen on it, but why? I know many people would call Samsung a greedy company, they just have to control their own operating system and all that, that just doesn’t make much sense to me considering they are so high in the food chain thanks to Android. They are currently the number one smartphone brand in the world as far as sales go and all that thanks to their Galaxy smartphones which are based on Android OS. Then, all of the sudden, Samsung decides they need their own mobile platform, and thus decides to launch Tizen. As if they didn’t have enough control as it is. They could just re-arrange their current TouchWiz UI in Android in order to make it less bloaty and more modern and try to provide a smoother experience overall. If you recall, Samsung actually had a few setbacks when it came to launching their Tizen-based smartphone, mainly due to a lack of apps and developer support, which is to be expected, it’s not exactly easy to launch a completely new OS these days.

Anyhow, let’s focus on smartwatches. Google’s CEO Larry Page and Samsung’s Vice-Chairman Jay Y. Lee held a rather “tense” meeting at the Allen & Co conference in Sun Valley back in July. We all know that Google and Samsung had “conflicts” prior to that one, considering Google isn’t exactly too happy Samsung includes so many bloatware apps on their TouchWiz UI. Mr. Page wasn’t too happy Samsung spends tons of money and time on their Tizen-based wearables. He basically wanted Samsung to wait for Google to launch Android Wear OS and instead Samsung decided to jump the gun and launched a Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which ran a heavily modified version of Android. That smartwatch currently runs Tizen OS, as Samsung updated it a while back. It is of course unknown how that meeting ended and if they managed to come to an understanding. Either way, it seems Samsung is reluctant to keep pushing its Tizen platform as hard as it can, though they did release an Android Wear-based smartwatch back at Google I/O, the Samsung Gear Live.

Samsung’s Gear S is arguably the best designed Samsung smartwatch to this date, I do think it is and I believe many of you would agree with me. I am quite certain this thing would sell a lot better if Android Wear was the OS included instead of Tizen, and again, I believe many of you would agree with that fact. The question remains why did Samsung decide to travel this path? Well, I believe they’re not particularly fond of Android Wear because they can’t alter it. Google has set some boundaries when it comes to Android Wear and Samsung is unable to bake in its own services the way they would probably want. That’s at least my opinion on the matter, I’m sure there are those of you who would disagree, as always. There is of course a possibility Samsung will decide to make a similar smartwatch which includes Android Wear OS and release it to the market, or perhaps even use the same one and just change its software, though I don’t believe we’ll see any of that soon. Samsung probably wants to see how Gear S’ sales will go in the coming months first and as I said, I believe this smartwatch will crash and burn as far as sales are concerned.

The smartwatch is still kind of a niche product and only people who know the specifics buy it, in other words, the regular consumers aren’t exactly that interested in smartwatches just yet. That being said, people who are tech-savy are usually stuck in a certain ecosystem, whether we’re talking about Android, iOS or Windows Phone and I doubt they’ll be ready to splash out cash for a Tizen-based smartwatch. I could be wrong, of course, but that doesn’t make much sense to me considering we already have a few Android Wear offerings on the market and Moto 360 is on its way and even the iWatch seems like a thing that could be launched soon. We must not forget about Pebble as well, which has been on the market for a while now and it does what it does perfectly, as long as you don’t mind an e-ink display. This is just my two cents on this subject, what are your thoughts on the matter? Do you think Samsung should have offered a Gear S smartwatch running Android Wear instead of Tizen?