The relationship between Google and Samsung is showing signs of being the tech world’s Next Big Soap Opera. Paul Grey at Displaysearch thinks Samsung is coming back around to Android for its wristware, after having deployed the open-source Tizen OS for its Gear line. We don’t think he’s got it right, and that Samsung’s flirtation is with Android, not with Tizen.
Every July, the investment bank Allen & Co. puts on a very expensive and exclusive retreat for media and tech CEOs; it’s not uncommon for a major merger or two to result. There were reports that a sit-down between Google CEO Larry Page and Samsung vice chairman Jay Y. Lee did not go well at all. Samsung will have an Android Wear watch all right, because it’s cheap and easy to do that. But Page apparently believes that Samsung is essentially ignoring Android in favor of Tizen, and he’s probably right.
Why would Samsung want to have its software platform entirely at the mercy of Google? It’s a sure bet that Google didn’t consult with Samsung (about the only Android vendor already with a viable watch) before it announced Wear. Going with Tizen, Samsung – the world’s biggest smartphone maker, right? – has the best of all possible worlds: control over the hardware and a truly open-source software platform that developers can hack at. It’s even better than Apple, which has similar control. Google has the software, but not the hardware except through reference platforms, the way Microsoft does it with Windows. And we all know how that worked out for PC hardware companies, right?
So there’ll be three ecosystems: Apple, Google, and Samsung