Samsung is expected to release a smartphone on a new operating system called Tizen in 2013.
It’s a bold move that could let Samsung lessen its dependence on Apple, a major customer for parts that has nonetheless sued it for patent infringement, and Google, which makes the Android software has been a big part of Samsung’s smartphone success but now competes with Samsung through its Motorola acquisition.
Tizen is similar to Android in that it’s an open-source smartphone OS built from Linux. But with one big exception, it’s not controlled by Google.
Instead it’s backed by Intel, Samsung, and NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest mobile communication company. It arose from the ashes of another effort to come up with an Android alternative, known as MeeGo. MeeGo was championed by Intel and Nokia before Nokia cast it aside in favour of its Windows Phone partnership with Microsoft.
So Intel tried again and found a partner with Samsung. Samsung is in a similar bind to Nokia, which was looking to replacing its ageing phone software, Symbian. Samsung wants to phase out its homegrown smartphone platform, Bada, and replace it with Tizen.
There was some talk that the first Tizen phone would arrive in 2012, but last summer, Samsung pushed back its plans to focus on Android and Windows, CMS Arena reported, It looked like Tizen would die a similar death to MeeGo.
Not so, reports Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun, a daily newspaper. Samsung will move ahead with Tizen smartphones next year with DoCoMo for release in Japan. Details were scant as to whether Samsung will have Tizen phones available in other countries, but that seems likely.
Obviously, even if Tizen phones are sold in the U.S., they won’t be a popular alternative to Apple’s iPhone, Google’s Android, or Windows Phone until there are lots of Tizen apps in an app store.
But Tizen is a project that is officially sponsored by the Linux Foundation, an organisation that has 800 companies and 8,000 dedicated developers on tap. And Samsung seems serious enough about Tizen to get it off the ground.
Last summer, the Korean company plunked out $500,000 to up its membership in the Linux Foundation to the highest level, Platinum, which gives Samsung a seat on the Linux Foundation’s board.