Samsung's Tizen mobile OS could signal new competition for Apple's iOS, Google's Android

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple's iOS and Google's Android have so far dominated the latest wave of mobile computing. Now, Apple's chief rival Samsung appears to be prepping a big push behind its own operating system, one that could have the potential to truly shake up the mobile market where others have failed.

iMacs
Pictured: A developer handset running Samsung and Intel's Tizen OS. (image via SlashGear)


Samsung has already revealed that it will be releasing hardware powered by Tizen, an alternative operating system co-developed by Samsung and Intel. Built largely on the Linux Kernel, the Enlightenment Foundation Libraries, and the WebKit runtime, Tizen is said to be scalable to displays from smartphones to in-car systems to smart appliances, and televisions -- all areas where Samsung already maintains a presence or is interested in approaching.

Tizen is a replacement of the MeeGo program Intel initiated with Nokia in early 2010, which was a merging of two efforts to produce an open source mobile platform the two firms had earlier maintained in parallel: Intel's Moblin and Nokia's Maemo.

Samsung previously launched its own internal Bada smartphone platform in 2009, which it began selling in parallel with very similar handset hardware running WP7 or Android.

In January, the South Korean electronics conglomerate confirmed that it will be producing Tizen-based devices, with the first of that line expected to debut sometime later this year. The initial roll-out will be tentative, subject to expansion "depending on market conditions," a Samsung representative told Bloomberg.

That decision is said to have come in response to Google's decision last year to purchase Motorola Mobility, a move that brought Samsung into the uncomfortable position of receiving the software that powers its best-selling devices ? indeed, devices that generate 76 percent of its profits ? from a company that now looks like a competitor.

Tizen, then, serves as a form of insurance should Google's currently open stance with regard to the Android platform look like it's about to change. And Google has been showing indications that it intends to compete more effectively in the mobile hardware space. Since taking over Motorola, Google has staffed its upper echelons with former Google executives and personnel the company knows it can coordinate with. On the surface, Google continues to say it will treat Motorola as equal to any other Android partner. Reports have emerged, though, that Google is working on a "game-changer" phone within Motorola, an "X Phone" meant to reestablish the faltering device maker and take on not only Apple but Google's top partner Samsung as well.

Razrs M
Google hopes the "X Phone" will break Motorola's trend of serviceable but uninspiring handsets.


From the Apple end of the equation, Samsung's move toward Tizen is more a move toward achieving parity. As Apple CEO Tim Cook explained earlier this week, the company's success in the new generation of computing is due to its decades of experience handling all aspects of the machines it produces. "If you look at skills," Cook said, "Apple is in a unique and unrivaled position. Apple has skills in software, in hardware, and in services."

Samsung is aware of this, and ? ever content to follow the market leader ? is moving to replicate Apple's model as best it can. Company representatives are saying all the right things in the media, noting ever so sagely now that true quality in the mobile experience comes from a melding of software and hardware, a mantra Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also converted to in the months before revealing the Surface.

Samsung realizes that much of its future profit growth in the handset sector will have to come from the unique value it builds into its own devices, and that value has to come from from software and services, and Tizen is a means of getting closer to that goal. With Tizen, the company will have a much bigger say in the direction of the platform than it currently does with Android, thanks in large part to its role in co-developing the operating system, as well as timely financial donations to associations guiding the platform.

The company has also expanded other operations in the software segment, opening innovation centers in Silicon Valley and pumping money into small developers. The end goal, of course, is to add value to Samsung's platform, differentiating the company from other Android device manufacturers and improving its already considerable brand image. The degree to which Tizen plays a role in this initiative is uncertain, but Tizen is close enough to Android that Samsung could very likely move its developer farm system to Tizen should it feel the need to do so. There is, in fact, already an application layer that allows Android-developed apps to run on Tizen.

Canalys market share
via Canalys


Of course, a Samsung rep's words from January ? "depending on market conditions" ? figure heavily into where the fledgling operating system goes from here. Together, iOS and Android account for more than nine out of ten smartphone shipments, according to the most recent market research figures. The remaining seven percent or so is divided amongst the assorted lilliputian alternative OSes ? the now-defunct Symbian, Windows Phone, BlackBerry ? with the field only growing more crowded in the next year. When Tizen debuts later this year, it will do so alongside Firefox OS, ex-Nokia employee-produced Jolla, and Ubuntu for Phones.

If any company has the ability to pull off the launch and popularization of a viable and thriving third mobile operating system, it may very well be Samsung. The company has shown that it is willing to spend and spend and spend some more when it comes to marketing. What's more, it's shown that that spending can actually pay off. Whereas the original Galaxy Note was seen as a fluke hit, its successor has gone on to considerable sales, based in large part on wave after wave of ads. The company's Galaxy S III has seen phenomenal sales topped only by Apple's iPhone, and Samsung is working to build a fan base to rival Apple's storied following.

So the next few months are likely to see Apple continuing to iterate its most-profitable OS, Google attempting to claw back relevance in the OS it created, and Samsung perhaps making a push in its own direction. It should make for an interesting year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 129


    lol, if that's what it looks like right now, BlackBerry just got a serious confidence boost.

  • Reply 2 of 129
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    It will hurt Android much more than it hurts Apple.
  • Reply 3 of 129
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member


    They're Just Tizen!


     


    Another supposedly Open Source OS based on Linux. This time from our friends at Intel.

  • Reply 4 of 129
    rogifanrogifan Posts: 10,669member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    lol, if that's what it looks like right now, BlackBerry just got a serious confidence boost.



    Apps in a grid pattern how original.

  • Reply 5 of 129


    Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

    Apps in a grid pattern how original.


     


    Plastic screen, how… high quality.

  • Reply 6 of 129
    I do not see this Tizen capable of succeeding. In fact, I will go on record to predict that Samsung has reached the pinnacle of it's success in terms of market share.
    I don't think Apple will eat too much of it's lunch (though I'm expecting some). Samsung is on the top of the junk heap, and I expect other junk to eat into it's share.
  • Reply 7 of 129
    Unless they do something radically different than having a screen filled with app icons in which the user uses their finger to touch the icon to launch the selected app, I do not see this gaining any ground on Android/iOS.

  • Reply 8 of 129
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,047member
    I wonder if this Linux distro allows commercial products and if it does, what the restrictions are and how soon Samsung will willingly violate them. I also wonder how much of this OS Samsung can actually try and patent since it sounds like it's open-source.
  • Reply 9 of 129
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,154member


    I hope to God Samsung does this. It would **** over Android so, so badly. 

  • Reply 10 of 129
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    ha-ha-ha. funny article!

    sure, Samsung can do well with Tizen on its cheap low end "smartphones" that are really just replacing "feature phones," especially throughout the Developing Second/Third World where Samsung is very strong (replacing Nokia).

    but where is the Tizen ecosystem? there ain't any. and without an ecosystem there is no way Tizen can compete with iOS and Android, or even Windows. the future of the top markets globally is all about ecosystems - smoothly integrated media, web/cloud services, apps, and more. Samsung sells a lot of washing machines and refrigerators too, but they don't help. and its "smart TV" line hasn't made a difference either, because the truth is, consumers don't want/need stand alone smart TV's to fiddle with. they just want them to be the big screen in their convenient ecosystem.

    maybe after 5 years of hard work Samsung could build that ecosystem and grow Tizen into something major. who knows. but not anytime soon.
  • Reply 11 of 129


    Samsung is a bottom feeder in the smartphone industry, except for a few top end models. With Apple, Nokia, etc. moving to other parts providers, I see a possible implode sometime soon. Only time will tell. Speculation on the authors, and mine image here.....

  • Reply 12 of 129
    geekdadgeekdad Posts: 1,131member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post



    It will hurt Android much more than it hurts Apple.


    I agree....considering how many handsets Samsung sells......all running some flavor of Android. If you replaced those numbers with their own mobile OS...it would seem to really hurt Android.


    Here are the latestest mobile handsets sold numbers by Gartner:


    http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2335616

  • Reply 13 of 129
    More mobile fragmentation can only help Apple.
  • Reply 14 of 129


    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    ... a move that brought Samsung into the uncomfortable position of receiving the software that powers its best-selling devices - indeed, devices that generate 76 percent of its profits - from a company that now looks like a competitor.


     


    I wonder if Google still claims there's a "firewall" between the Android team and Motorola.


    If there is, Google is stupid for not even attempting to give their X Phone an advantage over the competition


    If there isn't, then Google has lied and their Android partners (e.g. Samsung) will do well to look elsewhere.


     


     


     




    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    Company representatives are saying all the right things in the media, noting ever so sagely now that true quality in the mobile experience comes from a melding of software and hardware,


     



    "Melding" software and hardware is just the tip of the iceberg.  You'll need a cross-device ecosystem plus a robust, pervasive, international infrastructure.  You know, like the iOS + OS X ecosystem and the iTunes + iCloud infrastructure.  An ecosystem and infrastructure more or less like the ones Apple started working on before the first iPod was released in 2001.  


     


    iTunes came first.  Your infrastructure will also need to come first, otherwise your devices will be attempting to fly in a vacuum.  


    Oops.  Good luck with that, Samsung.


     


     


     




    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    With Tizen, the company will have a much bigger say in the direction of the platform than it currently does with Android, thanks in large part to its role in co-developing the operating system, as well as timely financial donations to associations guiding the platform.


     



    Samsung has two choices: 1. fork Android and create their own proprietary, closed, tuned version of it for their own hardware, or 2. dump Android in favor of Tizen, which they can also tune for their own hardware.  This goes back to the "melding" of software and hardware.  Something that Google either doesn't know about or doesn't care about.  Meanwhile, Samsung could keep their UI more or less the same as it is now, while switching the OS out from under it to Tizen.


     


    The process of switching to Tizen will be made easier by the fact that Tizen can run Android-developed apps.  That could work well in the interim, kind of like how emulators like Rosetta worked for Apple during the Intel processor transitions.  After that, the Android apps would be replaced with native Tizen apps for performance and to take advantage of Tizen's more advanced features.

  • Reply 15 of 129
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member


    This is likely only a basic risk-mitigation strategy.  Samsung is 100% dependent on Android, so it makes sense to invest in a fall-back.  But I expect this will be as relevant as all the talk about BeOS back in the day.  Or as someone else just said, this could be the OS for the basic free phones.


     


    Poor Microsoft trying to be number 3 in the mobile OS might have some competition.

  • Reply 16 of 129
    Given the quality of Samsung's TV -- a business they've been in for a very long time -- 'software' which is clunky, unintuitive, and slow, Ive is unlikely to be losing much sleep over this.
  • Reply 17 of 129
    Samsung may very well be able to oust Google Android from Samsung products. The problem for Samsung is that Google Android has an well known and accepted ecosystem whereas Samsung does not.

    Software and Services:
    Gmail
    Google+
    Google Hangouts
    Google Maps
    Google Now
    Google Play
    Google Wallet

    Hardware:
    Google TV
    Nexus Q


    Here are some images of Tizen.

    [IMG ALT=""]http://forums.appleinsider.com/content/type/61/id/20595/width/350/height/700[/IMG]


    Notably, Samsung Software and Services are highly disappointing as well:

    Music Hub
    S Beam
    S Cloud
    S Voice
  • Reply 18 of 129
    relicrelic Posts: 4,735member
    The Meego's app store was called AppsUp so does that mean Titzen's store will be called TitzUp.
  • Reply 19 of 129
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,876member
    It's amazing just how big of an impact Apple has had on the mobile market. Not only did they redefine mobile computing, it seems like the entire mobile industry is moving towards hardware software integrated devices; Samsung, Microsoft, Google, etc... It was only a couple of years ago when companies dumped proprietary operating systems to move to the "PC model" of licensing the OS.

    For the doubters, Tizen can take off just as fast as Android did. Most of these people have NO loyalty to an operating system. They just want a phone that works. If sales people start pushing Tizen, then it will sell. Samsung spends tons of money for sales commissions, how do you think their devices sell in the first place? There's nothing special about them over any other Android phone.

    As side note... curious that they use OHA (Open Handset Alliance) here instead of Google as every other report does. Would also like to know if they count non-OHA "Android" distros in that statistic?

  • Reply 20 of 129
    News Flash:

    Schwinn's latest bicycle could signal new competition for Ferrari. Woo hoo!
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