Can Samsung and Google’s smartwatch collab challenge Apple’s dominance?

The news: Samsung announced it will “unveil its vision for the future” of its Galaxy smartwatches at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona on June 28. The MWC event is expected to include a preview of the new Wear smartwatch platform that integrates Google’s Wear OS with Samsung’s Tizen OS.

More on this: Google is mobilizing the consolidation of Wear OS, Fitbit, and Tizen under its new Wear platform. Google and Samsung will codevelop software to run on hardware created by Samsung and possibly other OEMs, while Fitbit will contribute its fitness and health tracking services. This is an unprecedented alliance between former rivals in the wearables space to take on the Apple Watch and its apps and services ecosystems.

For context, Wear OS’s market share has been gradually whittled down into irrelevance. Samsung’s own Tizen OS-powered smartwatch releases have seen some success, despite Tizen’s lack of an app ecosystem and its struggle for wider adoption beyond Samsung loyalists.

What’s next? The consolidated smartwatch platform has the opportunity to fill a void in the wearables space. The Apple Watch is way ahead of competitors in market share, user adoption, and key innovations including health tracking and fitness features. However, Apple Watch’s biggest limitation is its exclusivity to iPhone users.

The new Wear-powered Galaxy watches need to be compelling to a wide range of users. Samsung and Google can define their smartwatch platform and set it up for success. But, it has to be a fully realized and cohesive offering that’s ready to hit the market now. A slow rollout, poor sales, or lukewarm consumer reception could be the fatal blow to Android’s sisyphean attempt to replicate its smartphone success in wearables.