Published: 6 June, 2012
Samsung is sending out signals that it will strengthen its commitment to its mobile Linux activities, by taking a platinum membership of the Linux Foundation, which hosts the Tizen operating system.
The Korean giant's main platform is Android, which is also Linux-based, but it has a track record of keeping its options open on operating systems, and Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility will only add to its incentives to bolster its second string offerings. The company is reported to have been working all year on converging Tizen - an open source system of which, with Intel, it is the main backer - and its own bada. These could be harnessed, in particular, for future cloud-oriented and non-phone devices.
The combination could provide a significant player - nothing to make a serious dent in the Android/iOS duopoly, but enough to keep Google sane. Bada, which runs on the Wave line, has made a strong impact in certain markets in Asia and Europe, sometimes running ahead of mobile Windows. And with carriers increasingly looking for a 'third way', which they can influence more powerfully than the big two, Samsung may be set to push its own OS, rather than the other alternative of Windows Phone. It does provide WP7 models, but its commitment has seemed lukewarm recently, especially given Microsoft's close alliance with Nokia.
By taking platinum membership of the Foundation, Samsung gains a seat on the board and joins just six other firms. A statement from Foundation said: "This announcement makes it clear how Samsung will attack Apple's position with both the Linux-based Android and Tizen platforms: get more flexibility and customization from an OS that can be used across mobile phones, smartphones, TVs, tablets and even appliances, while lowering its development and long term maintenance costs by working with a global community of 800 companies and 8,000 developers."
"By becoming a leader among its peers in Linux and open source software, Samsung Electronics is clearly raising the bar for innovation once again," said Jim Zemlin, executive director at the Foundation. "This is a strategic business decision that will result in advancing Samsung Electronics' success and accelerating Linux development work." He told an interview that the handset maker was "investing in Linux in a massive, massive way, as only companies like Samsung can do."
The other platinum members of the Foundation are Fujitsu, IBM, Intel, NEC, Oracle, and Qualcomm. Intel and Samsung are the main supporters of Tizen, which was formed from the merger of two previous open source mobile platforms, LiMO and the former Intel/Nokia collaboration, MeeGo.