Another mobile operating system is in the making with the blessing of some of the world’s biggest tech companies. Tizen, the name of the new OS, is being supported by both Samsung and Intel. Both companies claim that this new software will offer more customizable and open options compared to Google’s Android.
Tizen is considered a reaction to the growing dominance of Android operating system. Based on Linux and features full HTML5 capability, Tizen is an operating system designed to work in favor of wireless carriers so they can deliver their own services, and thus, getting back customer experience from Google. Tizen will also offer another option to diversify away from dependence on Android, and may be a saving grace for the struggling chip-maker Intel, which has lost a significant market share in the wireless-chip game to rivals.
It is expected that Tizen will start popping up in the next few months. Phones running this new operating system will start showing in the market before 2013 ends, as NTT Docomo had already confirmed to sell devices running it. Samsung has also said that its first Tizen phones will be available this year. Samsung is reportedly planning to launch its Tizen phones sometime after the second half of the year, but there is still no clear date when they will be available in the United States.
Just like any other new operating system, it is expected that Tizen will also struggle to convince developers to make apps that will push the operating system forward in an already crowded market. Microsoft Corp is set to continue its promotion of Windows Phone and Windows 8 operating system, while RIM readies itself to show off BlackBerry 10 this month. Other operating systems like Ubuntu mobile and Mozilla’s Boot to Gecko are also being prepared.
But Tizen has one clear advantage over its rivals–the technical and marketing prowess of the South Korean Samsung, which proved to the world that it could take on the biggest rivals after it managed to turn around its smartphone business to become the industry leader.
Infonetics analyst Julien Blin said that the success of Tizen all depends on Samsung’s ability to make it known to the market.
Better alternative against Android
Tizen operating system offers more options for customizations not possible on Android. Even if Android is already open, carriers and handset vendors using it are required to follow a certain agreed-on list of rules to prevent fragmentation.
While companies can customize Android however they wish, doing so would also forfeit their privilege to make the “forked” software get any support from Open Handset Alliance or from Google, which is clearly not a very attractive disposition at the present time. A prominent case is Amazon’s heavily customized Kindle Fire, which can no longer run the normal apps and services that Google offers.
Tizen is designed to give companies more options and flexibility that Android can’t offer. For carriers, Tizen is a way to emphasize to their subscribers their own services and features, maintaining a strong relationship between the two parties. In other words, for instance, NTT Docomo can offer its set of services to its customers rather than Google services.
“If we become a dumb pipe, our revenue will continue to shrink,” Kiyohito Nagata said. He is the current managing director of strategic marketing for NTT Docomo, as well as a member of the Tizen Association.
“Dumb pipe” refers to the present trend that saw a carrier become a simple Internet connection for services and apps being offered by other companies. Wireless carriers want to avoid this phenomenon so embracing Tizen is a smart way to go.
For some handset makers, Tizen is also a good hedge against Android in the event that Google will eventually decide to compete against them through its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, a move Google has been denying so far.
For Samsung, it said that Tizen is a good alternative so as not to overly depend on Google’s Android operating system. It confirmed that it is not letting go of Android.
Samsung’s chief product officer Kevin Packingham affirmed that Samsung finds Google as a good business partner, and that Samsung intends to continue supporting it.
Google’s Android operating system was one of the main reasons for the success of Samsung in the lucrative mobile market, overtaking the Taiwan-based HTC, which was one of the first takers of Android operating system.
The Tizen association does not want to derail this project and has kept an awareness of its past mistakes since it was conceived.
The work on the operating system is being led by a steering group composed of members from Samsung and Intel, rather than the traditional development by committee. The Tizen Association is a composite group consists of members who also provide codes and suggestions, though the core development is being steered by the two companies.
Both companies were chosen to ensure honesty. Intel is around to make sure that the handset maker does not integrate all of its technology to dominate the software, which will be a big disadvantage to other handset vendors, while Samsung’s role is to ensure that the new operating system will work with any other chip for mobiles.
But the main driver for Intel’s participation is to revive is struggling mobile-chip business. Despite securing some contracts with some companies to use its chips on their phones, Intel has failed to compete successfully in the mobile chip industry. No carriers in the United States is particularly interested with Intel’s chips.
There is still no indication when U.S. customers will see new Tizen phones, though Sprint Nextel has expressed that it will sell Tizen phones.
NTT Docomo outlined its strategy by saying that Android phones would remain as the high-end option, while Tizen will be the low-end smartphone choice fro those transitioning from basic phone to a smartphone.
“We want to launch and create our future babies,” NTT Docomo’s Kiyohito Nagata said.