In June 2014 Samsung announced its intention to reduce its reliance on Google's Android by introducing a rival operating system.
Named Tizen it's a Linux-based operating system offering high levels of system and app performance, tight software integration plus increased security levels.Tizen has a complex genealogy. It takes influences from many other mobile-focussed predecessors, such as MeeGo, LiMi and Bada. With such a background it's no surprise to learn that Tizen Association participants include Intel, Huawei, Fujitsu, NEC, Panasonic, KT Corporation, Sprint Corporation, SK Telecom, Orange, Vodaphone and NTT DoCoMo.
But there's another, more commercial reason for the Tizen move. Although Samsung operates its own app store, currently most app purchases are made via Google Play. However, Tizen devices push consumers towards the Samsung app store.
Tizen App Potential
Launching a new operating system that competes directly with Apple iOS and Google Android is a bold move. Success isn't guaranteed. But Samsung already has 30% of the global smartphone marketplace (compared to Apple's 15%), plus an equally strong position in the tablet and wearable marketplaces.
For the app developer Tizen appears to be yet another lucrative marketplace. For instance, back in July 2013 Samsung announced a Tizen App challenge with $4 million in prizes.
Yet it's not just about money. Tizen's developer community can code apps using familiar web-development languages, tools and libraries. An attractive alternative to battling with Apple's proprietary languages and unfamiliar tools.
In February 2014 Samsung unveiled its Gear 2 Tizen-powered wearables. This range includes the Gear Fit smart-bands for fitness fanatics and Gear Neo smartwatches, with customisable colours and themes.
In June Samsung launched its Z range of smartphones with the SM-Z910F model. And there's plans to put Tizen in cars and smart TVs.
Samsung Plays Smart
Tizen may well play a big part in Samsung's future. But it isn't about to place all its eggs into a single basket.
Although most of the Gear 2 wearable range is Tizen-based, the Gear 2 Live smart watches use the new Android Wear platform, as announced the Google I/O 2014 developer conference.
So, for the foreseeable future, Samsung will continue to work closely with Google to develop Android, Android Wear and Android Auto products. Meanwhile its keen to demonstrate commitment to open standards by participating in open source hardware and software working groups.
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