Is Samsung ditching Android Wear? It’s not clear.
Earlier this week, Fast Company published a report that said the South Korean electronics company has given up on Google’s smartwatch operating system. Unnamed “executives” told the news outlet that there are “no more Samsung Android Wear devices are in development or being planned,” citing development of Samsung’s rival smartwatch system, Tizen OS.
That seems fairly unambiguous. But Samsung is now challenging those comments. In a oddly worded statement to Engadget, a spokesperson said that “we disagree with Fast Company’s interpretation. Samsung has not made any announcement concerning Android Wear and we have not changed our commitment to any of our platforms.”
Note that it disagrees with the “interpretation” of Fast Company’s report — that “Samsung is done with the Android Wear OS” — not the underlying assertion: That there are currently no plans for more Samsung Android Wear devices.
Samsung declined to comment to Business Insider on future plans for Android Wear. Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
According to Fast Company, the executives said that Tizen OS offers better battery life for its devices, and is also used in Samsung’s other smart devices, allowing for greater compatibility.
While Samsung and Google have an extremely close-knit relationship in the smartphone sphere — Samsung is the number one handset manufacturer in the world — this isn’t the case with smartwatch. It has always focused on wearable products running its proprietary OS, and there’s only one Android Wear Samsung smartwatch out there, the Gear Live.
There has been tension between Google and Samsung in the past. In 2014, Google CEO Larry Page told Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee he was frustrated that Samsung was ignoring Android in favour of Tizen, at a “tense” meeting in Sun Valley, according to The Information. And Samsung Electronics co-CEO J.K. Shin in 2013 said he envisioned Tizen, not Android, running a broad range of his products.
Additionally, the smartwatch market is still in its infancy, and is far more fragmented than the smartphone market: Samsung may well think it has a better shot of going it alone.