Reports: Samsung's new Galaxy Gear smart watch to run Tizen, not Android

Samsung Electronics will debut a second version of its smart watch, the Galaxy Gear, next week, according to multiple reports. And according to several of those reports the watch will run on the Tizen operating system and not Android, as the first iteration of the Galaxy Gear does.

samsung galaxy gear android tizen

The current version of Samsung's Gear smart watch runs Android.

According to reports from USA Today and CNET, the new Gear will support the open-source Tizen platform and not Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform. The Verge also reported Samsung will release a new version of the Gear but did not confirm whether it would run on Tizen.

Samsung declined to comment, according to the reports.

The USA Today report indicated that Samsung will debut a new HTML5 version of Tizen at Mobile World Congress next week. Samsung has been developed a Tizen-based smartphone to introduce at the conference, as well as other Tizen devices slated for the first half of the year, CNET reported. Additionally, Samsung is working on other wearable devices, which it might debut at MWC or in the next few months, CNET said.

The main focus of Samsung's "Unpacked" MWC event on Feb. 24 is expected to be squarely on the Galaxy S5, Samsung's next flagship smartphone. An official Samsung blog post that discussed advances the company is making to LED components said a new reflector-integrated flash LED component "will be used in the next Galaxy smartphone, which is expected to be introduced later this month."

If Samsung switches to Tizen for its Gear smart watch it would be a significant move, since the Gear was one of the company's flagship products last year and represents Samsung's first foray into the world of wearable computing. The Gear was introduced last fall to much fanfare, and in November Samsung said it had shipped 800,000 Gear smart watches in the two months since its debut despite middling reviews of the gadget.

Samsung has promised to deliver Tizen not just to phones but other products and consumer electronics as well, so a smart watch seems plausible. By moving to an HTML5 version, Samsung could be aiming to attract web developers to Tizen, USA Today noted.

A switch to Tizen in Gear would also indicate that Samsung is still heavily behind the Linux-based platform. Samsung is the biggest backer of Tizen and a leading member of the Tizen Association. The group was created through the merger of the former MeeGo and LiMo platforms. Other Tizen supporters include Intel, Huawei, Orange and Vodafone, but several operators have recently cooled on the platform, including Orange, NTT DoCoMo and Telefónica.

Sprint (NYSE:S) is still backing the Tizen Association and earlier this month joined as a partner member, contrary to a recent report that the carrier had dropped its support for the fledgling operating system. The association recently announced 15 new partners who joined the group, including Sprint parent SoftBank, handset maker and network vendor ZTE, Chinese search engine Baidu and others.

Samsung has positioned Tizen as one of its many platform options, but analysts have consistently said Samsung could be using Tizen as a hedge against Android. However, Samsung and Google recently announced a wide-ranging patent-licensing deal that covers the companies' existing patent portfolios and all patents they will each file over the next 10 years. Further, according to Re/code, which cited unnamed sources, after pressure from Google, Samsung agreed to modify its user interface for future devices to highlight Google's suite of apps for movies, music and other content at the expense of Samsung's own in-house-developed software.

For more:
- see this USA Today article
- see this CNET article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Samsung post
- see this Android Police post

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