The original Galaxy Gear smartwatch was introduced in September of 2013 to almost universal critical panning. It was slammed for its somewhat bulky appearance, poor battery life, and a unintuitive user interface. It did, however, run Android.
Samsung's move to Tizen for the Galaxy Gear would be the company's latest attempt to move away from Android, despite the fact that it has been Android smartphones that have been behind the company's rise to no. 1 globally among cell phones, not just smartphones.
Tizen is an open-source Linux-based mobile platform. Samsung had originally stated commercially available Tizen phones would emerge last year, but that did not come to pass, and some members of the Tizen Association dropped out. However, on Feb. 12, the organization announced 15 new partners, including mobile and Internet giants Sprint, SoftBank, ZTE, and Baidu.
Samsung initially stated it would launch a high-end, Tizen-powered handset by September of 2013. That was delayed to Q4. Then in November, Samsung recanted again, saying it would introduce a Tizen smartphone in February. Since then, the company has been very quiet about the OS.
Does this foretell Samsung moving its smartphones from Android to Tizen? At least some handsets will probably move to Tizen, but Samsung said it was having issues getting developers to developer for the new platform, and that will probably continue to be an issue.
A lack of apps will be an issue when it comes to attracting both OEMs and eventually end users to a Tizen device.
On the other hand, while the Galaxy Gear does run apps, apps have to be built specifically for the Gear and have to be downloaded from Samsung's app store, not -- even for the Android-based first generation -- the Play Store for Android.
Thus, from an app perspective, a limited number wouldn't be as significant as with a smartphone. Meanwhile, from a UI perspective, if done "right," users probably wouldn't notice the difference between a Tizen-powered or Android-powered Gear.
Mobile World Congress begins on Feb. 24 in Barcelona, Spain.