Intel and Samsung Electronics are looking to boost their nascent Tizen mobile operating system with an app developer contest that will offer more than $4 million in cash prizes.
Top winning applications in the Tizen App Challenge, which launched July 9 and runs through Nov. 1, could win as much as $200,000. Intel and Samsung expect more than 50 developers to win some amount of money.
The announcement of the contest came a couple of weeks after reports surfaced that Samsung was delaying the release of its first Tizen-based smartphones, and after a Russian blogger said that Tizen was not just delayed, but possibly was dead.
That resulted in a statement from Christopher Croteau, managing director of Intel's Software and Services Group and a board member with the Tizen Association, saying that the giant chip maker was committed to the Linux-based open-source OS.
"We see a unique role for Tizen in the industry to create and to grow a new, open and flexible, mobile operating system that allows developers to write once/run on many devices," Croteau wrote in the statement.
The OS "has received broad industry support through the Tizen Association" and has hit key points this year, from releasing the Tizen 2.1 source code and creating an online storefront to the release of the Tizen 2.2 Beta software development kit (SDK) July 3, he wrote.
Tizen also has gotten the backing of device makers NTT Docomo, Orange and Huawei, as well as Sprint.
Tizen holds promise for both Samsung and Intel. For Samsung, having a market for Tizen-running smartphones and tablets could enable the device maker to lessen its reliance on Google and its Android mobile OS, which runs on Samsung's highly successful line of mobile devices.
For Intel, it represents another avenue into the highly competitive mobile device space, where the large majority of smartphones and tablets run on low-power systems-on-a-chip (SoC) designed by ARM and made by such vendors as Samsung, Qualcomm, Nvidia and Texas Instruments. Intel's x86-based chips run the bulk of PCs, but the PC market is slowing and Intel officials have been working to expand the company's reach. The company is looking to leverage its low-power Atom platform as an alternative to ARM SoCs.
Intel and Samsung also see Tizen being used in such systems as cars, smart TVs and other embedded systems.
However, Tizen faces a mobile OS market dominated by Android and Apple's iOS, which runs on its popular iPhones and iPads. The remaining small sliver of the market is being fought over by the likes of BlackBerry and Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, as well as Linux-based Firefox and Ubuntu offerings. Intel had been working with Nokia on an OS called MeeGo, but Nokia opted instead to standardize on Windows, so Intel folded MeeGo into the Tizen effort, which is a project of the Linux Foundation.
A key driver for any mobile OS is the development of an app ecosystem, a driving factor behind the Tizen App Challenge. Developers can register as many apps as they want between now and Nov. 1. The "Games" category of apps—from action, arcade and sports games to role playing, strategy, board, word, trivia and puzzle game apps—will generate the highest rewards, with the top app claiming the $200,000 grand prize, two second-place winners getting $100,000 each, and three third-place winners getting $40,000 each.
The "non-game" categories—for example, productivity, finance, education, reference, music, video, sports, news, weather and social networking—will see $120,000 for the grand prize winner, $60,000 for each of the two second-place winners and $30,000 for the three third-place winners.
In addition, the top 10 HTML5 apps will get $50,000 each. Judging will take place between Nov. 4 and Nov. 25, with the winners being announced in December.