Tizen OS: designed to run on everything

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The third chapter of our Open platform series will be dedicated to Samsung’s Tizen, the new operating system designed for wide variety of devices, from smartphones and wearable gadgets to cars

The mobile world has been dominated by the Apple – Google rivalry for a long time, and recently some experts say that the “war” is actually over: Apple continues to aim toward the Western markets, where the users can afford expensive devices, while Android aims to emerging markets, offering more affordable products in a much wider variety. But in the last few years we are witnessing emergence of open platforms (see our previous article and video on Firefox OS) that are trying to fill in the market gaps and find their place in the global mobile industry.

In this new race Samsung has a head-start, since it has been powering Google’s OS toward the global dominance. But now the Korean company is ready for a new adventure: their own OS – Tizen. Created in collaboration with Intel and backed up by device manufacturers, software developers, and mobile operators, could Tizen be the first step of Samsung cutting the ties with Google, and replacing Android as a main OS on its devices? Let’s take a closer look at this new operating system.

Launched in 2012, Tizen is a Linux-based OS, designed for numerous smart devices: smartphones, tablets, in-vehicle infotainment devices, smart TVs, and cameras. Its licensing model is based on open source and a proprietary SDK. The first consumer product based on Tizen was the Samsung’s NX300M smart camera, launched last year in October, followed by Systena tablet announced in June 2013 as part of a development kit exclusive to Japan.

Tizen tablet by Systena, photo via Engadget

The first commercially available smartphone running on Tizen OS – Samsung ZEQ 9000 has been announced recently at MWC14. The first impressions were not enthusiastic, and it was labeled as “boringly familiar” to Samsung Galaxy S4, but the reviews are showing that it’s slick, easy to use and offers more home screen functionality than iOS, Windows Phone or Android.

Check out this Tizen OS review from the MWC14 by Trusted Reviews

On the other hand, Tizen is designed to be customized and its open source nature allows manufacturers and operators to experiment with the interface and the User experience, and create new original solutions. Another important characteristic is its HTML5 base, that will speed up the app creation cycle, and of course its versatility toward different connected devices.

Thinking about the global mobile market it is very unlikely that Samsung will abandon Android, even though Gear 2 was launched recently running entirely on Tizen, as a successor of Galaxy Gear running on Android.

Samsung Gear 2, photo by The Verge

But if we take a look at developing markets, we could say that Samsung and Mozilla are becoming competitors. We should see some interesting developments as both players are interested in low-end smartphones for emerging markets.

The Korean technology giant is facing numerous challenges with its OS, relying not only on smartphones but also on wearable tech, and of course on a powerful team backing it up, including Intel, Huawei, Fujitsu and Vodafone. But one of the biggest issues might actually determine its fate: the lack of apps. Even though Samsung has a huge global presence the users will not buy the device that has no apps, and reaching the 6 digit number of apps available on Google Play or App store will be a very long process.

We have to be patient just a little bit longer, until the official launch announced for the late 2014.

Curious about other Open mobile platforms? Check out our Firefox OS insight and video!

 

Stay tuned for the next articles of the open platform series:

1)      Jolla OS: creating the mainstream alternative

2)      Ubuntu OS: will Linux on your phone challenge the establishment?