We already know of the big guns in smartphone operating systems. Android dominates with Apple closing in on its heel. The rest of the space is shared by Symbian, Windows Phone and Blackberry OS. Nokia has killed its own Symbian OS and Blackberry is dying out. But that hasn’t stopped a whole lot of new Mobile OSes from launching in 2013. Tizen is one of the newer Mobile Operating systems. However, its code-base has been around for half a decade.
By far the most ambitious of the newer OSes is Ubuntu OS with its revolutionary idea of “Convergence”. But it failed to launch a phone so far. Firefox OS fared much better. It had a goal to create cheap phones based on HTML5 code. This allows it to run well even on low-powered devices. When Nokia fired their own Meego OS employees and shut down the project, Jolla stepped in. Hiring the same people who were fired, they released the Jolla phone with the Sailfish OS. This even comes with the Google play store enabled. So where does Tizen fit in?
Nokia, the makers of the first internet enabled phones, wanted to make a new OS for their newer smart phones. They teamed up with Intel. Nokia’s Maemo OS and Intel’s Moblin OS was merged into Meega OS. They were doing very well. It was made to run on a variety of devices. From smart phones and netbooks to TV’s and Cars. But unfortunately it was killed by Nokia. It was then that Intel and Samsung came together to create Tizen. Samsung brought the Bada and LiMo platform to the Meego OS.
So here’s the question. How could all these different platforms come together so easily? Obviously because of the Opensource Model and Linux. They can share code and code can be used in other projects. On the technological side this makes Tizen a very lucrative project. But the Meego fiasco shows us that Technological advantage doesn’t necessarily sell.
But Tizen is different. Tizen is backed by both Samsung and Intel. An interesting blog on the internet had a compelling theory. Nokia was bought by Microsoft. Google had Motorola (though they are selling it due to losses) and Apple creates both its hardware and software. Samsung is the largest Android OEM in the world, and they don’t have their own software. If you look at the android deployed on Samsung devices you see that there is an ugly clash between the default Google software and the Samsung equivalent. There is Google Photos and Samsung Gallery, Google play store and Samsung Apps. Samsung cannot remove any of the core Google software and replace it with its own because they don’t integrate too well. This could make them lose customers who might buy a Nexus device. Google has also profited from Samsung phone sales, but Samsung apps like Chat on, etc have not caught on as much as Samsung had hoped. In Tizen, Samsung has control over the software and can integrate many of its apps at the Core level.
(Source: Luke Westaway/CNET)
Samsung has worked on Tizen for two years now. It has enough pull to rope in carriers worldwide. Already they have 36 leaders of the mobile technology in their Tizen Association including NTT Docomo, Orange, SK Telecom, Sprint and Vodafone. But is this enough to enter a market already saturated with every kind of phone?
The deciding factor is Software. And in a way Apple has got it right. Android implementations depend on the OEM’s. Some are brilliant, some make people never try Android again. iOS is made only for the iPhone. There is complete integration between hardware and software. Samsung might want to do just that. But isn’t it too late to start building an app base with its own set of software?
Samsung has announced prize money in millions for the best app, the best game and best 10 HTML5 apps and many more. The prizes are to be announced soon.
The latest Dev phone released is the Samsung ZEQ 9000 for app testing. Here is a video review by CNET.
Tizen is a mixture of Android and iOS features, and the Samsung Touchwiz UX. Although many people have called them copycats, in effect they are just following the standards that everyone is used to, making it comfortable for users. For instance, we cannot complain that BMW copied Ford by making cars with 4 wheels. The UI of Tizen is expected to be revamped. Version 3.0 is to be released later this year with massive improvements in functionality and user experience. So far we have access to Tizen 2.2.1. It has the basic smartphone features with camera software, toggle switches etc. But it still has a long way to go.
(Leaked photo of Tizen 3.0. source:CNET UK)
While many have praised the open source basis of Tizen, the SDK itself is released under the Flora license which doesn’t exactly conform to open standards. But it is free to use. Tizen is not android. Tizen can use more frameworks though. But the user only cares about the apps. And Tizen has not yet implemented a Marketplace/ App store but I’m sure they will very soon. Gameloft has already ported games over to Tizen. Many other developers are also talking about porting. It is a new market and it is a perfect time for small time app developers to gain recognition. For those interested in developing or porting apps to the Tizen platform please follow these links.
Many of us are happy in our own iWorld or Android planet. Tizen may not have any significance for us. Yet Samsung is making progress and maybe we will find it the perfect OS for us. It is versatile and easy to use. But Samsung is counting on something else. Most people don’t even know their phones have different operating systems. They only understand companies and brand loyalty. Many iOS users don’t know what iOS is, and Samsung fans buy phones for the name emblazoned in front. So when Tizen comes out it will look and work so similar to Android that most people will not bother. Their work flow will not change and they will be familiar with working the toggles and options.
Samsung have recently signed a Cross-patent deal with Google. It allows them to help significantly in the development of Android. As a result many in the media question their commitment to Tizen, wondering if it is only a backup plan against Android. We’ll find out soon enough. Check out the release of the First Tizen Phone on 23rd February.
But where does Tizen fit in? Is it for low-end devices? But the ZEQ is a high-end phone. Samsung seem to be creating an all-purpose OS. However, it is dangerous to be all things to everybody. Tizen needs focus. It needs a very specific target audience. Without that it will never catch on. Hopefully they figure it out soon.