Later this month, Samsung is expected to release the next iteration of its Gear smart watch.
And according to a new report in USA Today, the next Gear timepiece will run an HTML5 version of the Tizen operating system, instead of the Android OS featured on the current model. USA Today, which spoke to several people "familiar with the situation," speculated that the decision could be an attempt, on Samsung's part, to "avoid giving Google too much power."
Samsung, unsurprisingly, is not commenting.
The original Gear was launched last September; the critical reception was muted, to say the least. As many reviewers pointed out, to really take full advantage of the watch, you needed to also own a Galaxy phone or Note tablet, a set-up that would run you hundreds of dollars. Moreover, battery life was poor, the apps were substandard, and the design was a little clunky.
"If you’ve ever seen a cycling race, you’ll know that leading from the front isn’t always a great idea," writes Vlad Savov of The Verge. "The front runner has to cut a path through the wind and expend much more energy than the savvy followers behind him. The same is true for tech companies looking to establish new product categories — being first at something often means being first to make the big mistakes."
So was Samsung smart to jettison Android this time around? Larry Dignan of ZDNet, for one, thinks it was.
"Could you imagine if Samsung put Android on the back burner and put Tizen on a big product like the Galaxy line?" Mr. Dignan writes. "Samsung would risk customer angst. On Gear, Samsung the stakes are lower and the requirements for Tizen aren't nearly as hard to fulfill. HTML5 has improved to the point where many applications and mobile sites can approach native apps in performance. On a smartwatch, HTML5 will likely be good enough."