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Samsung continues to bet on Tizen in new Classic smartwatches

Matt Hamblen | Jan. 6, 2016
Smartwatch market hasn't grown as fast as expected

gear s2 classic platinum
Samsung is offering the Gear S2 Classic smartwatch  in platinum and 18K rose gold.  Credit: Samsung

LAS VEGAS -- Samsung yesterday announced new Tizen-based Gear S2 Classic smartwatches, placing an emphasis on styling, with traditional round-faced designs that come in 18K rose gold and platinum.

The round-faced Gear S2 line debuted in November with most models selling for $300. Pricing wasn't announced for the coming Classic models. The internal components of the earlier models will remain the same in the Classic versions. The smartwatches will be available in February.

The new Samsung Gear S2 classic smartwatches will have a 1.2-in. circular display, a dual-core application processor and 4GB of internal storage. The devices will support wireless charging with a 250 mAh battery that lasts two to three days with typical usage.

What makes the new smartwatches noteworthy is Samsung's continued commitment to the Tizen operating system. Earlier Samsung smartwatch models running on Android Wear are retired, at least for now, Samsung officials said.

"Tizen gives us more control," said Eric McCarty, vice president of mobile product marketing for Samsung's business products division in the U.S. He spoke in an interview at CES.

McCarty emphasized that Samsung is still a close partner with Google on Android for use in Samsung Galaxy smartphones and other devices. The Tizen-based smartwatches also will run with most Android smartphones. Today, there are about 1,400 apps that work with the Samsung smartwatches, a far cry from the millions of smartphone apps on the market.

Samsung is also selling Tizen-based smartphones like the Z3 outside the U.S. McCarty said there is no roadmap for when Tizen smartphones from Samsung will arrive in the U.S.

Samsung's ability to attract independent Tizen developers to build innovative new apps could be the deciding factor in Samsung's future smartwatch success, according to analysts.

McCarty said there has been steady progress in attracting Tizen developers, but analysts consider the future path for Tizen developers and the OS a tenuous path.

In December, analyst firm IDC called Samsung's Tizen the "dark horse of the smartwatch market" and ranked it fifth in shipments in 2015, with 1.7 million devices. Apple's WatchOS, by contrast, was ranked first, with 13 million smartwatches shipped -- taking 61% of the market. Android Wear was second with 15% of the market, and 3.2 million units shipped.

IDC said Tizen has benefited from technology developments like new users interfaces, including a round-shaped face with a bezel ring that rotates for navigating through apps and other functions. Still, IDC said, such features won't be enough to keep up with Android Wear and WatchOS.


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