Report: Google, Samsung at crossroads over smart watches


Samsung Galaxy Gear Tizen update

As much as Google and Samsung like to pretend that they have a happy relationship in the public eye, we’re always hearing about some closed doors feelings of theirs. This time, the two sides are said to be butting heads over Samsung’s focus on their Tizen-based smartwatch products in the wake of Android Wear.

Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee and Google’s Larry Page reportedly had a heated meeting over the matter earlier this month. Samsung has long had plans to migrate over to Tizen after launching the original Samsung Galaxy Gear with Android, though the operating system wasn’t quite ready for prime time at that point. They didn’t hesitate to take Android out of the original, however, and the new lineup launched with Tizen pre-installed.

We would have thought Google would be alright with it considering Samsung was one of two OEMs to offer the first Android Wear smart watches, but it appears even that isn’t enough to satisfy their wishes. It’s an interesting stance by Google who has largely let OEMs do what they will with Android and doesn’t often have much to say about the other interests of the companies they work with.

One could wonder if Google’s supposed hostile stance against Samsung’s actions is because they’re afraid of seeing Tizen catch steam and threaten Android. While the smart watch market might not be big enough to sweat over right now, they still have to worry about Samsung’s desire to get Tizen up and running on commercial smartphones (the first of which has already been made official).

We wouldn’t worry about top lines like the Note and Galaxy S series getting infused with Tizen instead of Android in the near future. Samsung won’t want to make such drastic changes while they don’t yet have an applications and content ecosystem that can rival the likes of Google Play. But they’re obviously building toward that future, and if these reports are anything to go by it’s something Google certainly doesn’t want to see happen (no matter how much they claim they don’t want Samsung to have a stranglehold on the smartphone market).

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Not a surprise. Samsung wants to push Tizen, Google wants Samsung to continue with Android. Consumers don’t want Tizen. Samsung, don’t push Tizen since we already have a great OS. No need for another niche OS.

    1. I say let them. I don’t think it will ever catch on, but Sammy might come up with some cool innovations that can then be carried over the android after Tizen has to call it quits.

    2. Whatever happened to the phrase tossed around here a lot.. Competiton drives innovation? If iOS is such a joke to most android fans what happens from here? In the future google sits on a 90-95% market share forever? Life doesn’t work that way thank god. There needs to be at least 2 more mobile OS IMO

      1. iOS is still very viable despite how people describe it. It’s more than a niche OS. I said the phrase “niche” OS. Windows Mobile is not a niche OS either.

      2. But it IS…working that way. The competition is not…(i repeat)….IS NOT….the Operating System. Rather, it’s with the hardware. LOL…only tech geeks see it as competing OS’s, but all in all, it’s the hardware. The same way there was PC competition when they all ran on Windows.

      3. Only problem is: If you have five OS’s with similar market-share, that creates a nightmare for developers and an annoyance for consumers when an app they want isn’t available on their particular platform. I think the competition between Android, iOS, and Windows Phone is adequate.

    3. Tizen has the chance to thrive due to Samsungs notoriety. Give that to any other OEM and it would be suffering the same way Windows Phone is right now. However decent it might be, Android and iOS are behemoths and high-end smartphone buyers are too ingrained in the ecosystems to consider switching and when they do it’s a big deal.

      1. No it doesn’t. They’re forcing people w/ Galaxy Gears to use it if they want updates and to buy newer models. Nobody wants an app store with nothing on it. 2 OSes is fine to choose from for me.

        1. Ok we’ll go back to the days of MS and Nokia only as options for OS back in the day with that mentality. Competition is necessary in order to move forward a stale ecosystem.

  2. I always wonder why companies waste time and money trying to develop a different operating system or skins like TouchWiz. I still believe that Stock Android is the best. Why not just focus on creating unique hardware or software apps to run on top like what Motorola did with their Always Listending and Active Notifications. Google steered Motorola in the direction that all smart phone manufacturer’s should be going. Let Android Wear develop and they can add custom apps and hardware over top of it. Just my thought.

    1. I can’t speak for TouchWiz because I’ve never used it. I have used Sense and stock Android… I would always choose Sense over stock, however – I do understand the love for stock… I just don’t think the average customer would choose it given the choice.
      Having said that – It would be fantastic to have the option of disabling Sense / TouchWiz / whatever the LG UI is and having a stock experience whenever you want it.

      1. I have used othes UIs and I will always choose stock. I don’t want the OEM and the the Carriers bloating out my phone with their crap.

        Anyway, I think Samsung watches and phones are kind of crappy now days anyway.

      2. The reason why Google hates skins and branded apps is that over time it makes it possible to swap out the underlying OS a that means also all the Google preloaded apps and with it all the ad dollars. The reason why the OEMs love skins it strengthens their brand over ther Android competitors. The OEMs will never give up their skins and while the OEMs with skins dominate market share there is nothing Google can do about it.

    2. That is because you are thinking like a consumer of technology and not as a business person. It really isn’t in Samsung’s best interest to be on a software platform they don’t control and is available to their competition. Stock or close to stock might be the best experience for customers, but then you are primarily competing on price, and even with all of Samsung’s vertical integration advantages, they don’t want to be doing that. So that is why we have touchwiz. Instead of asking why they skin, the real questions is why do the skins need to be so bad.

      The Samsung/Google relationship is really complex and pretty fascinating really

      1. Excellent response.

      2. Steve is right on the money. If not for TouchWiz, why would I choose Samsung’s crappy builds over HTC’s solid ones? What they did with TouchWiz on the Note line is fantastic (the SPen features anyway) and set it apart from the rest.

      3. Yes I understand but why can’t the options that Samsung puts on their phones be restricted to add on Apps and Hardware which would set them apart. And you can even sell more by making those Apps optional so you appeal to both crowds. Why do they have to skin over things that already work in stock android?

        1. Look to the PC market if you want to see where differentiating on hardware gets you.

    3. speak for your self, i think stock android is boring.

      1. Boring? Try fast, not to mention it boasts features that are supplanted by many OEM skins.

        1. Stock Android is boring. I’ve only used TouchWiz and Sense but they are pretty good. It’s a shame that they bog down the system and make it laggy but functionally they are fine. Vanilla isn’t bad but the skinned additions aren’t always bad either.

      2. Totally agree. The stock apps like messaging and the phone dialer are so boring compared to the feature packed Touchwiz.

    4. Really? You wonder why. You don’t realise that that Samsung are just a OS licensee and that without being able to differentiate their product then they are destined to only be able to differentiate on cost and that leads to razor thin margins. Samsung only adopted Android because previous to Android their smartphones sucked. There is only a small number of people who care about screen quality and that even with Samsung their lower cost handsets outsell their premium phones. If Samsung and everyone else for that matter cannot build a different experience then they are destined to a future of small margins and industry consolidation.

      1. I agree with what you are saying that each OEM has to differentiate but I am just saying that it could be done in other ways. More with Apps and Hardware rather than trying to skin over the whole OS. There are plenty of different companies out there selling Windows laptops yet they each survive with the hardware and software that they accompany their system with followed by the support and quality that they have.

        1. I just think that OEMs want to be able to do more than just survive. The reality is there isn’t a single OEM who wouldn’t give its left nut to be where Apple is in terms of Revenue, earnings and control of its own destiny. Samsung are showing how they want to be like Apple by trying to build its own OS, its own store and own services…but they will most likely fail. If they fail then the hardware is too easy to copy as that is the bit with little non-FRAND IP and can easily be copied by competitors.

  3. Samsung is simply more ambitious and outward thinking than the rest of the OEMs using Android. It’s clear Samsung doesn’t want to bow down to Google completely the way LG and Motorola have been recently. And its clear their plans are too far away from what Google intended of Samsung. Leading to conflicts between the two companies. That’s why.

    1. More ambitious? Yes. In a position to be a problem for Google/Android since they sell the greatest percentage of Android devices by far and might want to sell devices that don’t run Android? Hell yes.

      1. well they already have a large number of windows 8 phones as well and are the second largest OEM for windows phone behind Nokia

        1. They only have to sell a few thousand to be number two.

    2. Samsung know that if they don’t quickly take control they are destined the future of a commoditized market. The reality is that it is too late for them because they helped to make Android popular and now their commoditized future is set.

  4. If the gear 2 could show my twitter feed I would buy it asap

  5. Let us decide to load skins that would solve everything. .

  6. I honestly dont think is competition they are worried about. There is little to no chance Tizen will ever overtake Android. It’s just too late in the game. But what they are worried about is someone going out to buy a Gear Live with Android Wear, and leave Best Buy with a Galaxy Gear 2 w/ Tizen. The watches essentially look the same, and to the AVERAGE CONSUMER, not us proficent w/ tech, they wouldn’t know the difference until it was much too late. Therefore devauling Android Wear.

  7. all the smart wearable devices are not user-friendly enough. :(

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