The Samsung-Huawei smartwatch. Remember when sources told us that Huawei wanted to craft a Tizen-powered smartwatch with Samsung? Well, those discussions haven’t been fruitful: there’s still no Tizen-powered Samsung-Huawei partnership smartwatch on the market.
And Huawei is the holdup.
Huawei wants to be the “Samsung” of Android Wear
The Huawei watch. Can you think of another company’s smartwatch that’s rather identically named? The Apple Watch, what many believed would be named the iWatch when it arrived to market, was simply named after the fruit company when it was announced on September 9, 2014. The Huawei Watch would not arrive to Android Wear until a year after the platform’s inception, March 2015, and six months after Cupertino’s first-generation smartwatch had already hit the market.
Flash forward to MWC 2017. The company announced the upgrade to its first-generation Huawei Watch, called the Huawei Watch 2, but added the word “Classic” to its formal watch so as to distinguish it from the new, sporty smartwatch. The “Watch Classic” moniker shows that Huawei’s two greatest “inspirations” are Apple and Samsung.
Huawei’s decision to rip off the “Classic” moniker and throw it on its formal smartwatch shows that Huawei doesn’t want to work with Samsung - it wants to be Samsung. In its quest to become Samsung and have the success Samsung has, Huawei will do anything to get there, including steal successful device monikers.
It’s all too easy to rip off a name that a company has already selected in order to achieve a similar success as company A (the company that’s been successful). Device monikers are special, unique, and should be brainstormed and carefully considered. Huawei didn’t have to carefully consider its name: it simply decided to go with Apple’s basic moniker and then throw in Samsung’s “Classic” label from its Gear S2 Classic and Gear S3 Classic and, boom bada bing, the Huawei Watch 2 and Watch 2 Classic were born. This is no better than a student who takes another student’s paper and claims it as his own when the thief didn’t do the work himself.
What’s even more eerie about this than the watch moniker is that Huawei didn’t add to its sports smartwatch label, matching Samsung’s own naming scheme with the Gear S2 and Gear S2 Classic. The more sporty Gear S3 is called “Gear S3 Frontier,” but the sporty Gear S2 didn’t receive an added word to its moniker: no, it’s simply “Gear S2,” and that is all.
Huawei remains with Android Wear, in the face of departures and sales decline
Huawei has considered a smartwatch with Samsung, but its consideration of Samsung’s superior wearables platform was extremely short-lived: the company has launched its Watch 2 and Watch 2 Classic running Android Wear. Huawei continues to cozy up to Google, though its greatest success lies with Samsung.
Android Wear (AW) is losing partners. Motorola has exited the smartwatch market as of last year, Sony will not update its Smartwatch 3 to Android Wear 2.0 and hasn’t announced a fourth-generation smartwatch, and Samsung has abandoned the platform for the time being with no Android Wear-powered smartwatches in development. Sure, there are luxury brands entering the AW market, Michael Kors, TAG Heuer, and Casio are examples, but these companies are simply producing hardware for a platform that is for Google, by Google, through Google. There’s little creative software development by AW OEMs here, except for Casio with its Smart Outdoor watches. The rest are bare vanilla AW with little else to offer.
Samsung’s abandonment of Android Wear should be an indication of just how big a failure the platform has become, but Motorola’s exit and Sony’s implicit departure should be enough to deter Huawei from staying in the arms of Google. Motorola left AW because its profits were marginal at best; Sony doesn’t have a new smartwatch in the works because AW isn’t lucrative. Samsung has sold more Gear smartwatches running Tizen than any Android Wear OEM in any quarter, and left AW because its Gear Live smartwatch running AW wasn’t lucrative. You’d think Huawei could take the hint: that AW isn’t lucrative.
Some companies, I think, are just too afraid of success. When you do what you’ve always done, you get what you’ve always gotten. Those words are fitting for Huawei’s refusal to see Samsung as the better partner than Google. If Huawei hasn’t had that much success with Google yet, what makes it believe adding 4G LTE data and GPS to its smartwatches this year will create a different outcome?
Huawei needs Samsung to penetrate the US market. Its Nexus 6P experiment with Google was a failure, and its first-gen. AW smartwatch experiment with Google was a failure. Google and Huawei were set to cooperate on the Pixels, but Google wanted to force Huawei to deny its branding on Pixel smartphones, which is why Huawei didn’t make them. Every effort Huawei has made with Google to penetrate the US market has resulted in failure. If after three times you don’t succeed, it’s time to try something new: in this case, Samsung and Tizen.
Samsung is the key to penetration in markets such as the US, not Google, and Huawei is simply choosing the wrong partner and hoping to end up on the right side of success. That is nothing more than financial self-sabotage.
Some companies never learn.