Opinion

How Samsung singlehandedly brought down Android Wear

It wasn’t all that long ago that Samsung and Google were arguing over Samsung’s Tizen efforts, and, since that argument some 2 years ago, Samsung has continued to build Tizen and its own platform ecosystem.

Well, LG, Huawei, and Motorola have sat out the last several months of 2016 in the smartwatch market, but news this past week from Motorola shows us that Android Wear is not only going nowhere, it’s crumbling faster than expected. The latest casualty in AW? Motorola.

Motorola announced this past week that it’s bowing out of the smartwatch market for now because it doesn’t see a year-to-year upgrade of its smartwatch as the right course of action for the market. This comes after news that Huawei is considering other options for its smartwatch platform (perhaps Tizen), and HTC “Halfbeak” smartwatch photos leaking that show a product unlikely to launch this year due to strained funds for the Taiwanese gadget maker. As for Sony, the Japanese OEM has remained silent on any future products beyond the Smartwatch 3, launched on Android Wear back in September 2014.

With all of these companies either not making smartwatches or, in Motorola’s case, bowing out of the smartwatch race, a few questions come to mind: 1) what’s happening to Android Wear? 2) why is Samsung’s Tizen having greater success? And 3) What will happen to Android Wear, what will become of it in the future?

I could answer question #1 but can’t answer in either direction on question #3. Question #2 is worth examination, though, because the possibility of Samsung having success with Tizen seemed unusual back when it launched smartwatches in 2013 (this wasn’t the first time Samsung launched smartwatches, though). Though it may seem unreal to some, Samsung has singlehandedly brought down Android Wear by way of a few significant factors.

First, Samsung has opened up its Tizen-powered smartwatches to have compatibility with non-Samsung, Android-powered smartphones. Since Tizen does not yet have the large following and support that Android has, Samsung is allowing customers to buy their Android smartphone and pair it with Samsung’s Tizen-powered Gear smartwatch lineup. Android users don’t seem to mind wearing a Tizen-powered smartwatch while rocking their Android smartphone, the first step in getting these same customers to see how much better Tizen’s battery life is over their beloved Android.

Next, Samsung has singlehandedly brought down Android Wear by making unique hardware. The Gear S back in 2014 brought unique hardware, with Samsung’s first curved display on a smartwatch. Sure, a number of individuals found it to be too futuristic, but there are a number of owners who loved it because it was unique, unlike any other smartwatch on the market (with 2-day battery life and the classic-quality AMOLED display).

The Gear S2 is where Samsung took its unique approach to wearables and made something that even more consumers could love. The rotating bezel is still one of the most unique features on a smartwatch that takes something old (the dial on divers watches) and reworks it for a more modern audience who wants something “smarter.” The Gear S3 is all about refinement, making a device that is unashamedly masculine.

Last but not least, Samsung has singlehandedly defeated Android Wear by separating itself from AW by way of its own Tizen platform. Being that Samsung is in charge of Tizen, the Korean giant has been able to display its own capabilities in battery life, design, and performance, and these three factors together combine for a unique experience. Had Samsung continued crafting Android Wear smartwatches with its typical blandness, it would’ve seen some small share of success but nothing like what Tizen has produced.

Conclusion

It wasn’t all that long ago that many diehard Android fans were calling for the death of Tizen, saying that “it’s DOA,” “it’ll never compete with Android Wear,” “Samsung is dabbling into another useless endeavor,” and so on. I was even told that Pebble (yes, the Pebble that has now been purchased by Fitbit for up to $40 million) would crush Samsung and Tizen. And yet, Android Wear is looking more like a sinking mobile “Titanic” every day.

Motorola was also said to have more finesse than Samsung, but it too, has decided to exit the smartwatch business for the long term. Meanwhile, Samsung, owner of Tizen, “the little OS that couldn’t,” some said, is alive and thriving with new apps, a new smartwatch, and mass consumer appeal. It just seems as though every time the critics predict the death of Samsung and Tizen, they’re proven wrong.

It’s time for Tizen’s most diehard critics to discover a new hobby.

28 Comments

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billywongwashere
billywongwashere

I doubt Samsung is responsible … It’s a simple combination of things.
Aw is clunky and slow
Smart watches will not catch on as people don’t wanf upgrade expensive watches every year. Rather save up and buy a brietling or omega as it will keep its value and still work 30 yrs later
Plus did I mention smart watch is a fad like vr and before that 3d tv

warlockba
warlockba

Honestly, I doubt Samsung has brought down something else than itself with the Note 7 fiasco. There is no need for a new Android wear at the moment – and since most of the other “manufacturers” have already brought their device on the markets, there is no reason to buy a new watch at the moment, except in case the old one broke down. I owned several watches – and the only one “cheap enough” to break down at the moment was the Samsung watch (due to failure in bracelet and again, battery which bloated nicely). I am quite sure… Read more »

ARR22
ARR22

blah blah blah

warlockba
warlockba

I doubt that anything I stated above is blah blah. It is a documented fact actually – and everyone who does not believe, can research it himself, if he wants to open his / her eyes – if not, then just follow blindly. I develop software for both platforms – and they are gosh darn similar in terms of usage and performance, and you can do on one of them as many things bad as on the other – if you do not know what you are doing; and since on the Android store, there are a lot of apps… Read more »

sammorphous
sammorphous

I used both Android Wear and Tizen. Definitely Tizen is faster, looks better, less battery consumption. I’d like Tizen for my Moto 360 pleaseee

pixiejoe
pixiejoe

There is one big issue here, with tablets the gear s2 was not compatible android wear is so even using tab s2 t715 one is obliged to buy AW watch

n900mixalot
n900mixalot

Where’s the mention of Samsung Pay MST?! Holy bacon scraps, THAT alone is a key element that could let Samsung own the smartwatch market, and stomp Apple into the ground. Apple is really the only competition, and Fitbits aren’t really “smartwatches.” I don’t think Samsung directly brought Android Wear down, I think Android Wear brought itself down. It’s clunky, getting long in the tooth, and it is really kind of just an additional screen. I do like the convenience that Android Wear smartwatches provide, but I love what Samsung wants to make smartwatches able to do just a bit more.… Read more »

cristi_tatoiu
cristi_tatoiu

I subscribe to the abysmal selection of applications… But… It’s a damn smartwatch not a smartphone… Why need a RSS feed reader or Netflix VR client? The apps available are just what’s REALLY needed for a smartwatch… For a Tizen powered smartphone that’s not enough but for a smartwatch? I’d say that’s just enough

stoertebecker
stoertebecker

I switched from the S2 to S3 Classic. I must say that i like the Samsung approach. All works smooth as silk for me. The only downside is in my opinion the lack of third party apps like runtastic etc. Or maybe i did not found them yet as i have the watch just a week.
Anyway so far shealth doing the job as well

sammorphous
sammorphous

Fortunately , with apps is better and better every day.

Jon C
Jon C

Well I jumped ship from an AW Sony SmartWatch 3 to a Gear S3 Frontier and although the S3 is smooth as silk in operation, and that rotating bezel is an act of genius, there’s just one thing that AW blows Samsung out of the water…. APPS Or, in the case of the Gear watch, the almost total lack of them. For example, try to find a RSS reader for the watch. Or a weather app that’s not heard-linked to the inaccurate US-based Accuweather. Or a watch face you can change the base colour to anything you like without buying… Read more »

maccyb
maccyb

There are a number of watch faces you can change without paying, but if can’t afford a dollar or less for something someone put an effort into designing maybe you shouldn’t have got the watch.

Jon C
Jon C

You mean £1.67 because that’s how much it costs here… And why should people have to purchase difference coloured versions of the same watch face? Maybe you shouldn’t have been so American in your answer.

ARR22
ARR22

I don’t know, maybe we shouldn’t have to pay for a different color of the same shoe’s, shirt, phone, car etc. I like your logic.

DareDevil01
DareDevil01

I’m sorry but I won’t buy a Samsung phone if it only runs Tizen, I’m more than happy with a Tizen watch but not a phone where the amount of apps available is essential!

maccyb
maccyb

I agree at the moment, which is why there’s a big push towards building up the Gear app store, and new are arriving at an increasingly fast rate . It will take time but it will happen.

ctdog4748
ctdog4748

Let’s be honest, Samsung has had since, what, 2014 to get app developers on board with Tizen for wearables, and still the Gear has an incredible lack of quality big name apps. It’s unlikely the store will really ever get much better.

maccyb
maccyb

Good article and correct too. Android wear is dying and with Samsung actively buying the missing businesses and technology companies (Siri inventors was a great buy) it is very obviously gearing up, pun intended, for a complete break from the too fragmented Android OS and go all in to Tizen. With almost 30% of the total smartphone market Samsung has the loyal customers, the biggest market share of any company, (double that of Apple, and dwarfing the microscopic market share of Google phones) only they have the resources to make it happen, and I believe it will. Probably sooner than… Read more »

Hahnski
Hahnski

I’m not a watch user… But I know most people keep their non-smart-watches for a long time. So I wonder what the update policy is on these smart-watch wearables – is it 2 years (with a few more years of security patches) or is it more long term? The main reason I avoid smart watches is because the investment might have a short life span.

ProdByEchelon
ProdByEchelon

I think Google should rather have OEMs build on top on AW. It’s just too boring for consumers to want to buy one. The fact that Samsung sells more smart watches than ALL AW watches combined says a lot

ProdByEchelon
ProdByEchelon

It’s a combination of Tizen being great and the fact that Samsung is the Apple of Android in a sense that it’s consumers by their accessories like Apple owners do.

LeifS
LeifS

1) Tizen is a much better experience than Android Wear. It’s faster, more easy and natural to use and doesn’t look like a cut of square interface in around watch 2) The Samsung brand helps 3) Google designed the whole watch experience around the voice and Google search input, while Samsung was smarter by recognizing that most people don’t want to talk to their watch – at least not during their day in public or at work. They check the time, their notifications and such things. I think the 3rd point is the biggest one. Google want’s to put the… Read more »

sammay69
sammay69

google fucked Android wear by dealing android wear 2.0 to next year. and i own the Huawei watch its a beautiful smartwatch but android wear is isn’t. Android wear 2.0 is a big step forward for android wear just sad google is dealing it whille Samsung is doing greater with the success of Gear S2 and Gear S3