While most wearables run on Android – an indication that the platform is most preferable for developers – Samsung just announced some shattering news that is likely going to drastically shift this playing field. According to a report in USA Today, the next version of Samsung’s Gear smartwatch will run on Tizen and not Google’s Android. Apparently Samsung will unveil the next version of the Gear watch, and the new HTML5 based operating system, later this month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Tizen, which launched last year, is an open-source platform for smartphones and other connected devices. Samsung has been a strong supporter of the project and despite getting off to a slow start, the project also announced 15 new partners on February 12, including mobile and Internet giants Sprint, SoftBank and Baidu.
The adoption of Tizen as the platform of choice for the next Gear watch may indicate just how much Samsung is trying to distance itself from Google, who is quickly becoming a rival in the wearable industry. By scrapping Android, though, developers may have a more difficult time working with Samsung’s Gear, currently one of the most popular smartwatches on the market whose creators only enable a limited amount of developers to work on it via program invitation. Some fear surrounds the new Gear that it may not work with other Samsung products that still run Android. Will the Gear still be as useful if there are fewer apps, as developers may not be as keen to work on a less popular platform? Will consumers still want to use the Gear if it becomes a standalone device that doesn’t sync with Samsung’s phones or tablets? Will the interface even be familiar enough for consumers to purchase?
All these questions raise serious concerns about Samsung’s future in wearables – questions that will hopefully be addressed in a few weeks in Barcelona so current developers can decide whether the watch – and this genre of wearables – will continue to be a good use of their time.