Counterpoint Research has a new report on the smartwatch market, and Wear OS is a big winner. Just three months ago, Google and Samsung teamed up to revive Wear OS, with the new Wear OS 3.0 debuting on the Galaxy Watch 4. Counterpoint’s latest data makes the partnership a resounding success, taking Wear OS’s share of the market. skyrocketing from 4 percent in Q2 2021 to 17 percent in Q3 2021.
The partnership of Google and Samsung was a complete reboot of both companies’ smartwatch strategies. Google struggled at the bottom of the sales charts and apparently lost interest in Wear OS for years. The last major OS release was Wear OS 2.0 in 2018, which has been stagnant in the market for years. Wear OS’s big tech partners from the early days, such as Samsung, LG, Sony and Motorola, had left the platform, with only fashion brands like Fossil hanging out making watches. Qualcomm was the main SoC provider, and while Apple was revolutionizing the power you can get from a smartwatch SoC, Qualcomm didn’t quite try, strangling the Wear OS market for years with subpar chips.
Samsung left Google’s smartwatch ecosystem after its initial release and struck out on its own with Tizen OS. Tizen is a Linux-based operating system created by Samsung, built from the ashes of other failed mobile Linux operating systems, such as Nokia’s Maemo and MeeGo, Intel’s Moblin, and Samsung’s Bada and LiMo. The operating system was described by a security researcher as “the worst code I’ve ever seen” and doesn’t have much third-party app support. Samsung’s strength lies in hardware, and unlike Qualcomm, Samsung’s Exynos division has regularly produced flagship-class smartwatch SoCs with a modern transistor format and decent ARM CPU designs. Combining the two required linking Google’s operating system, software, and app ecosystem with Samsung’s hardware, marketing, and distribution, a combination that built the Android phone juggernaut that exists today.
The collaboration has already ended for both companies. Counterpoint says: “Thanks to the launch of the Galaxy Watch 4 series, Samsung achieved its highest quarterly deliveries, closing the gap with Apple and reclaiming second place from Huawei.” Samsung’s market share has increased year over year from 9.9 percent to 14.4 percent.
Apple still holds the top spot with the Apple Watch, but Counterpoint says Apple’s smartwatch market share fell 10 percent in the third quarter to 21.8 percent thanks to the slowdown of the Series 7 watch in the fourth. quarter. It’s a good bet that Apple’s market share will rise again with the release of new hardware, but right now Wear OS is a striking distance from the No. 1 spot, a position unimaginable a year ago.
Wear OS probably also has some growth left. At the moment, Wear OS 3 is available exclusively on Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 4, and since Google says partners should have updates available in the second half of 2022, it appears that Samsung has a one-year exclusivity agreement for the new operating system. Qualcomm is schedule a “next-generation” “ground-up redesign” of its smartwatch chips in 2022, so we’ll likely see some non-Samsung OEMs jump on board with modern, competent smartwatch designs for Wear OS 3.
Looking at the smartphone market, another reason why Android devices regularly sell to Apple is a lower price, and Wear OS 3 isn’t taking advantage of that yet. Counterpoint says that “a third of smartwatches sold in the third quarter of 2021 cost less than $100,” and the research firm expects Samsung to tackle the market within a few years in a bid to take the No. 1 OEM spot. to conquer. The Galaxy Watch 4 starts at $249.99.
Google also needs to do something with Fitbit, which currently takes 4.4 percent of the smartwatch market. Fitbit said it plans to eventually make Wear OS watches as well.