Sony picks in-house OS for wearables and survival

by Steve Blum • , , , , , , ,

Used to be staying alive was innovation enough.

Google’s try at adapting its Android operating system to specifically support wearable devices isn’t getting much love from manufacturers. Following Samsung’s lead, Sony has decided to make its own Android mod for wearable products, instead of using Google’s Wear platform. It’s a necessary gamble if Sony still wants to be Sony.

The company is trying to remake itself into a mobile-oriented, innovative brand. Like it used to be when Sony launched the Walkman 35 years ago. That’s why they’re unloading the Vaio product range. If they want the brand to mean what it did back in the day, they need to innovate at the operating system level as well as the app and hardware levels.

(Way back when I was working with RCA on the launch of what is now DirecTv, the joke was “what’s the Sony brand worth? Fifty bucks a letter”. OK, maybe not a ROTFLMAO moment, but the $200 premium those four letters fetched was real).

Building and using its own Android adaptation is the way to do that. It gives Sony the ability to tie their wearables more closely to their tablets and phones. If it works, it’ll give them the same kind of advantage Apple will have if it ever extends iOS to wearables. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter because Sony can’t survive as a commodity electronics manufacturer. There’s little opportunity to create magic products if you’re using the same chips and operating system that lead to the same app store as everyone else.