Global IT companies are likely to announce at MWC 2015 that they will wean themselves off from on Google's Android Wear, a wearable version of Google's Android operating system (OS), with the launch of wearable devices based on other platforms. As a result, competition for independent OSes for wearable devices is expected to kick into high gear.
Competition among the Tizen OS led by Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics' webOS, and Mozilla's Firefox OS to expand their own OS ecosystem is expected to heat up. The expansion efforts are aimed at laying the groundwork for competition in the IoT market.
Samsung is planning to showcase Tizen OS-powered smart watches at MWC 2015. After releasing its first Android Wear-enabled smart watches called the Galaxy Gear and Gear Live, it used the Tizen OS in following models such as the Gear 2 and Gear S.
According to the Institute for Information & Communications Technology Promotion, Samsung's Tizen OS made up 40 percent of the worldwide smart watch OS market as of the third quarter of last year. Samsung's share is the same as that of Google's Android Wear, and thus the competitive landscape for the market is a two-way battle.
Google's Android OS accounts for more than 90 percent of the smartphone OS market, but its wearable version is neck and neck with the Tizen OS in the smart watch OS market.
The Tizen OS is an open-source mobile platform developed by the Tizen Association, in which Samsung and Intel lead the development efforts with the support of the Linux Foundation. The platform is very compatible with HTML5, the next-gen web standard. Its biggest advantage lies in better battery life of Tizen devices than wearable devices using Google's Android Wear.
Samsung formed the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) in July 2014, which is a consortium for the Internet of Things (IoT) with Broadcom, Dell, Intel, and Wind River as members.
LG unveiled its own webOS-based smart watches at CES 2015 held in Las Vegas from January 6 to 9, and will release webOS-powered smart watches next year. Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC is also expected to debut its own OS-based smart watch called Petra at this year's MWC.
Unlike OSs for mobile devices or computers, OSs for wearable devices require lower specs and low power consumption. Since it is necessary for wearable devices to be slim, the size of batteries must be reduced accordingly. Hence, there is a certain limit to the battery life expectancy of wearable devices.
That is the reason behind the uncertainty about the domination of the IoT market by Google's Android OS, which represents nearly 90 percent of the global mobile OS market right now. What is certain is that Google is in an advantageous position to dominate the mobile OS market. Google developed Android Wear to provide information optimized for users, which is one of the advantages of Android OS. The search engine giant introduced the beta version of Android Wear in March 2014.