What it is: Android Wear is the Android version of the operating system for wearable devices.
Long before the Apple Watch became a reality, Google had released a version of the Android operating system specifically geared for wearable computers called Android Wear. Although Android Wear came out before the Apple Watch, it didn’t see much success. dNow that the Apple Watch has defined the wearable computer market, Google is trying once again to push Android Wear out to compete.
The idea behind Android Wear and Android in general is that manufacturers can use it for free and then develop products to sell based on the free operating system. In return, Google gets additional devices in which to track people for their ad business. Theoretically, this should be a win-win situation for everyone.
Unfortunately, reality has a harsh way of affecting theory. By not having the Apple Watch to mimic, Android Wear floundered with a variety of different designs, none of which caught on much with the public. Now that the Apple Watch is available to imitate, Android Wear can emulate the Apple Watch just like Android emulated iOS.
However the big problem is that history could be repeating itself. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Back when Android was taking over the smartphone market, manufacturers thought they needed to follow Android to remain successful in the smartphone market. As it turns out, with so many manufacturers selling Android smartphones, even the best designs got lost in the sea of mediocrity. While HTC and LG tried to create decent Android phones, Samsung and Apple carved up the smartphone profit share for themselves with Apple taking roughly 90% of the smartphone profits, leaving everyone else scrambling for the remaining profits. Samsung usually took the remainder of the profit share, leaving other Android manufacturers losing money.
Now that Samsung no longer has their bigger screen advantage in the smartphone market, their profits have been dropping every quarter. As other Android manufacturers offer lower cost smartphones, Samsung is getting squeezed on both ends by lower cost Android manufacturers and Apple’s iPhone. Samsung’s smartphone profits keep falling with no hope in sight to reverse this decline.
Now with Google pushing Android Wear, manufacturers are rushing to create wearable computers like the Apple Watch. The trouble is that they’re simply following the path of unprofitability just like so many manufacturers discovered with Android. When you sell devices that have no unique features, you can only compete on price, and when you can only compete on price, there’s a huge chance you’re going to lose money. Just ask LG and HTC how much money they’ve lost selling Android smartphones. When you’re losing money selling products, you can’t stay in business for long.
So now Google wants manufacturers to struggle and lose money selling Android Wear wearable computers? For those manufacturers rushing to create Android Wear devices, watch them lose money. All of these Android Wear manufacturers are hoping to become the next Samsung, which means they’ll be the exception. However most will fail and even becoming the next Samsung is no guarantee of success when your real rival isn’t Apple but other Android/Android Wear manufacturers.
Android is essentially in competition with itself. Even Samsung tried to distance themselves from Android by developing Tizen, another open source operating system. The big problem with Tizen is why would anyone else support an operating system designed to benefit a competitor like Samsung? That’s like Burger King promoting McDonald’s. Even worse, if Tizen becomes an unlikely success, other manufacturers will still be selling identical products running Tizen instead of Android. The insanity continues.
The path to quick, illusionary profits is to copy the leader and hope for the best. The real profits go to the leaders and innovators. If companies like Samsung and HTC really want to succeed, they need to create unique products of their own that appeal to the public, not rely on commodity type operating systems that attempts to mimic the success of MS-DOS/Windows. The main reason why Windows succeeded for so long was because there was no other alternative. Now that there are alternatives, a commodity operating system is doomed to fail regardless of its technical capabilities.
The reason why Apple succeeds is because if you want a Macintosh, iPhone, or iPad, you have to buy it from Apple. If you want anything else, you can choose from a dozen manufacturers, which means no single manufacturer will make much money. Apple is poised for continuing success. Companies chasing after Android, Tizen, or Android Wear are simply knocking their heads against the wall and hoping to make money doing the same thing as everyone else. When you lack innovation and vision, then copying others always seems like the safest approach even when it’s clear that it doesn’t work. Just watch all those companies killing themselves to compete with Android Wear devices and Samsung go nowhere with their Tizen operating system. The bloodbath of commodity operating systems will just continue.