South Korea‘s LG Electronics Inc. will use the WebOS platform as an alternative to Google Inc. ’s Android operating system in a new smartwatch lineup to be launched early next year, a person familiar with the plans said.
“We’re going to slowly try to build an (software) ecosystem around areas we can have more control over,” the person said on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas..
LG, a latecomer to the market, has introduced a few smartwatches powered by Google software, with one of the more recent models, called the G Watch R, running on the Android Wear operating system.
Another person familiar with the matter said LG has plans to release another smartwatch that can make calls without having to be linked to a smartphone early this year. But the person wouldn’t say which operating system it would run.
The move to adopt WebOS highlights LG’s internal software ambitions. WebOS is a platform LG bought from Hewlett-Packard Co. in 2013. At the time, the acquisition surprised the industry because the operating system was a flop under H-P when it launched on smartphones to compete with Android and Apple Inc. ’s iOS. But since its acquisition, LG has adopted WebOS in a variety of products, such as televisions, and is considering using the platform for its home appliances, the person said.
LG redesigned the software to suit television sets instead of mobile phones and launched its first WebOS-powered television last year. It now plans to expand the use of the platform to power all of its Internet-connected televisions this year.
LG executives say the move has, thus far, brought satisfying results. The company said in June 2014 that it shipped more than 1.1 million WebOS-based televisions, which compares to some 20,000 mobile devices sold through H-P. LG is the world’s second largest seller of televisions by sales after crosstown rival Samsung Electronics Co.
For smartphones, LG, like many other phone-makers including Samsung, has been relying heavily on Android. But South Korean technology companies are attempting to nurture a platform that they can have more control over by introducing them in other products that don’t have a dominant platform. At CES this week, Samsung, for example, outlined plans to widely adopt its homegrown Tizen operating system on televisions after several failed attempts to introduce them on smartphones.
The person said that Android would remain the major platform that powers LG’s mobile devices in the near future, taking a skeptical tone on the possibility of bringing back WebOS to its smartphones.
“It isn’t a technology issue. There is a prevailing system and people are used to that, which is hard to change,” the person said.
In smartphones, Android and iOS captured more than 95% of the market in the third quarter, according to research firm Strategy Analytics."