Mobile

Samsung postponing launch of Android-competing Tizen smartphone

Image Credit: Samsung

Samsung is postponing the launch of the its first smartphone featuring Tizen, an open-source, Linux-based mobile operating system that will compete with Android.

That, coupled with news that Samsung is announcing its first-ever developer conference this morning, is fueling speculation that the Korean company will be launching Tizen, its first Tizen smartphone, and perhaps even the long-rumored S Cloud — a cloud-based infrastructure that will connect and synchronize Samsung devices — in late October, all together.

It’s unlikely Google is all that worried — in the short term — about the new competition for its Android-based mobile phone hegemony.

Tizen is the love child of Intel’s failed Meego mobile operating system efforts and Samsung’s own Bada: an unlikely alliance of a company that has yet to make a dent in the mobile device markets and a company which captures 95 percent of Android device profits. The goal for Intel was mobile relevance, while the goal for Samsung is likely Google independence — and a cut of media, app, and ad revenue from current Google Play and Google search users.

ZDNet Korea says the delay is due to a decision to beef up the rumored Tizen smartphone.

Originally slated to be hardware-competitive with the Samsung Galaxy SIII, Samsung now wants to bump up the specs to a more modern standard — the SIII was released last year — and possibly even Samsung’s gold standard level: the recently-released Galaxy S4.

Tizen OS, which was initially released in January 2012, is now at version 2.2. The latest release, just a month ago, added features critical for release to a larger group of developers: new API access control privileges, and an updated development environment. Interestingly, that new IDE enables live editing and previewing of CSS and HTML5 files, which are the native format of Tizen apps.

Android apps can be run on Tizen as well, however, with OpenMobile’s application compatibility layer.

Lack of apps, of course, is a killer for mobile operating systems. Even giant software companies like Microsoft have struggled with generating enough mobile apps to meet all consumers’ demands on platforms such as Windows Phone. Which is probably why the Tizen Foundation has held app creation contests with over $4 million up for grabs, and prizes as high as $200,000 for gaming apps and $120,000 for non-gaming apps.

If Samsung actually does launch Tizen and a Tizen smartphone at its upcoming developer conference, the mobile waters will get even murkier. Right now, developers are focusing on Android and iOS, the two smartphone platforms that cannot be ignored, with some rising interest in Windows Phone, the clear third-place platform right now.

It would take a miracle, seemingly, to unseat Android, which has about 80 percent global market share right now, or to even make a serious dent in its market penetration.

But Samsung, which shipped 400 million phones last year, is probably the only company that could even conceivably make it happen. Which is why Google is likely paying very close attention to everything that Samsung and its partners are doing in this area.

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