Samsung will have Tizen smartphones by September
Already has NTT Docomo and Orange to launch a high end smartphone running the Linux OS
Published: 18 March, 2013
Samsung is gaining confidence in software, traditionally its point of weakness. It is creating an Android user experience increasingly independent of Google's own - sparking talk of tension between the two giants - and will launch its first device running the Tizen operating system by September.
Tizen is an open source Linux-based mobile OS, formed by merging two previous initiatives - the operator-driven LiMO, and MeeGo, the Intel/Nokia development which was a casualty of Nokia's decision to throw in its lot with Microsoft. Intel itself and Samsung are the major backers of Tizen and the Korean firm is thought to have merged elements of its homegrown bada OS into its implementation.
Bada enjoyed some success, especially in parts of Europe, on the Wave family of midrange handsets, but has only 1.3% of the total mobile OS market according to Bada. N0w Tizen seems poised to be Samsung's second string OS - especially after its new co-CEO, and mobile chief, JK Shin said recently that it was seeing only "lacklustre" demand for its Windows Phone offerings, especially in Europe. Tizen fits into the trend for slimline mobile OSs geared to HTML5, streaming and cloud services. However, unlike rivals such as Firefox Mobile and Jolla Sailfish (also a MeeGo derivative), it is not making entry level smartphones its initial target. Instead, Samsung is believed to be launching it on a high end product, which could be seen as a shot across Google's bows, reminding the search giant that Samsung is not entirely reliant on Android.
Samsung's EVP of mobile, Lee Young Hee, told Bloomberg that a Tizen handset "in the high end category" would be out in August or September. The firm recently showed off a reference model running the OS. "The device will be the best product equipped with the best specifications," said Lee.
As seen in last week's Galaxy S4 launch, Samsung's great strength lies in its ability to mobilize huge numbers of operators and distribution channels round the world for its flagship products. It has already signed up NTT Docomo and Orange to launch its Tizen smartphones. The vendor also offers the Ativ line running Windows Phone 8 and a new Galaxy Note is expected soon.
Of course, applications are always the barrier to challenges to Android or iOS, at least until the HTML5, online-only model really takes off among consumers. However, Chase Perrin of the Tizen Association told Bloomberg: "Android, among other mobile operating systems, is tightly controlled. As an open source software platform, Tizen is designed to make it easy to develop for a range of devices."