Samsung will reportedly use its Gear smartwatch as a trial balloon for its Tizen operating system. The move makes a lot of sense to see if Tizen can really hold its own relative to Android.
According to USA Today, Samsung will outline its latest Gear smartwatch powered by Tizen and HTML5. USA Today cited three unnamed sources.
The importance of Tizen can't be understated. Samsung relies on Google's Android operating system and is the biggest manufacturer driving mobile market share for the search giant. The two companies are strong partners, but Samsung doesn't want to give Google too much power.
Samsung has pursued a gradual rollout with Tizen and is slowly landing partners. By putting Tizen on a smartwatch, which merely takes data from a smartphone for display, Samsung minimizes its risks and gets to test its open source operating system in the field.
Could you imagine if Samsung put Android on the back burner and put Tizen on a big product like the Galaxy line? Samsung would risk customer angst. On Gear, Samsung the stakes are lower and the requirements for Tizen aren't nearly as hard to fulfill.
HTML5 has improved to the point where many applications and mobile sites can approach native apps in performance. On a smartwatch, HTML5 will likely be good enough.
Add it up and Tizen on Gear is a good first step. On other fronts, Samsung will continue to layer its software on top of Android as it tries to differentiate itself on the mobile front.