Gear 2 running Tizen: Smart move for Samsung smartwatch?
Launching Tizen on Samsung's newest smartwatch could help the company avoid the app and carrier problems that often plague new operating systems.
BARCELONA, Spain -- Samsung's first move with Tizen may not be big, but it could prove to be pretty savvy.
The Korean electronics giant has been working on Tizen-based smartphones for months, but the first global product to use the open-source Linux operating system won't be a phone. Rather, Samsung on Monday will unveil a new version of its Gear smartwatch that runs the company's Tizen software rather than Google's Android operating system. Introducing Tizen to the masses via Gear may be one of the smartest moves Samsung could make. The reason? Apps.
Smartphones and tablets require app stores with millions of offerings to gain traction with users. Just look at how the lack of apps has hurt Windows Phone and Blackberry and how much money and time they've spent to boost their stores. Samsung also has offered millions of dollars in prizes and funding to get developers to make apps for Tizen.
The situation is different for smartwatches and other wearables -- at least during these early days. Essentially all wearables on the market have to be tethered to a smartphone to truly work. That means they don't need to do as many things on their own aside from notifications or fitness tracking. And the small screens and overall limitations mean most Android apps wouldn't work on them anyway.
In the case of the first Gear, Samsung has closely controlled what apps could be on the device, rather than opening the gadget up to the entire Google Play universe of apps. Before launching the device, Samsung sought out app developers and worked with them to create software that would work well with the smartwatch. While it has since opened up its mobile software development kits to developers, Samsung has kept the Gear app store invite-only.
"We need to make sure we're ready to go big," Curtis Sasaki, senior vice president of Samsung's Media Solution Center Americas business, told CNET at the company's developer conference in late October.
Continuing with such an invite-only model for the Tizen-based Gear could help the operating system gain more traction, particularly compared with how a Tizen-based smartphone would do. Samsung wouldn't have to worry about having millions of apps that run on Tizen. It would just need to make sure it had a curated batch of apps that worked really well with its smartwatch, and that's exactly what Samsung is doing, according to people briefed on the Gear 2.
[Ash will likely burst a blood vessel if Tizen gets traction in the marketplace due to Intel's involvement.]