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Tizen-based Samsung smartwatch rumored

Feb 19, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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The next version of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch will run the Linux-based Tizen operating system instead of Android, suggests a USA Today report.

According to the USA Today story, the next generation of Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch will depend on Tizen’s HTML5 stack for its application development.

The story, which was said to come from “three people familiar with the situation,” is likely to be publicly confirmed in an announcement next week at MWC in Barcelona. The company is also expected to announce at least one Tizen smartphone, as well as the Android-based Galaxy S 5, says the story, supporting early rumors.




Current version of Galaxy Gear
(click images to enlarge)

While Tizen smartphones could potentially cannibalize Samsung’s own dominant and profitable line of Android devices, Samsung doesn’t have much to lose with the Gear smartwatch. Although it is one of the most well-known of the new wave of Android-based, and Android-compatible smartwatches, thanks in part to a major advertising campaign prior to the holiday season, its sales appear to have been modest. Then again, the same could be said for other major smartwatches, such as Sony’s Smartwatch 2. There has been considerable interest in cheaper upstarts like the simpler, open source Pebble, which does not run a full-fledged OS.

Even with the original Gear, Samsung showed its independence from Google, when it decided to limit some of the best Bluetooth syncing features to other Samsung products, not Android in general. A recent patent deal with Google apparently called for Samsung to dial back the differences between its TouchWiz UI and stock Android. Of course, those restrictions would not affect a Tizen-based device.

Samsung, which is the only company currently pushing the open source Tizen platform for smartphones, has struggled with delays and a slower than expected ramp-up for app development. Last month, Japanese mobile provider NTT DoCoMo announced it was indefinitely postponing its expected 2014 Tizen launch. Last week, however, Samsung tipped a Feb. 24 Tizen announcement along with a leaked image of an updated TouchWiz UI for Tizen, and the Tizen Association announced 15 new members, including Baidu, SoftBank, Sprint, and ZTE.

It appears likely Orange, Vodafone, and perhaps a few other carriers will ship a Tizen phone this year. However, the Tizen app gap, the Google deal, and Samsung’s own strategic uncertainty may limit its initial marketing push. It will be interesting to see if Tizen becomes the next Android, or just another flash-in-the-pan like Bada, an earlier Samsung mobile OS, parts of which are now integrated in Tizen.
 

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