Samsung Continues to Convert Mobile Players to Tizen

Samsung continues to welcome new players into the Tizen family. Its June 2 dev conference may coincide with Tizen smartphone news.

Tizen OS

Ahead of the third annual Tizen Developer Conference, which begins Monday, June 2 in San Francisco, the Tizen Association announced that 37 new companies have added their "voices and expertise" to the Tizen operating system. The Tizen Partner Program, launched in November 2013, now has 88 partners.

"Especially on the app developer side, the enthusiasm we're seeing from companies that want to help build and shape the Tizen OS and contribute to its success is extremely encouraging," Ryoichi Sugimura, a Tizen Association board member from NTT Docomo, said in a May 29 statement.

The association's board is steered by representatives from 10 companies—five wireless carriers plus Samsung, Fujitsu, Huawei, LG and Intel.

Tizen is a Linux-based wireless operating system with roots in MeeGo, the platform that Intel developed with Nokia. It also has ties to Bada, the OS that Samsung developed before choosing Tizen as the platform it hopes will give it breathing room—if not full independence—from Google's Android.

Samsung's second-generation Galaxy Gear smartwatches, unlike the original Gear, run Tizen. It also offers cameras that run the 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 and run] on many devices," Christopher Croteau, an Intel managing director and Tizen Association board member, said at the time of the Gear 2's launch.

Research firm Strategy Analytics expects Tizen to remain a niche OS in 2014 and 2015 but continue to gain a following. Still, "Microsoft, Firefox and Tizen will be among the fastest-growing operating systems, and they will steadily chip away at Android's installed base during the next five years," the firm said in a January report.

Samsung early last year promised a Tizen-running smartphone before 2013 was out, but so far, nothing has materialized.

That may soon change. Samsung is planning an event in Moscow, timed around the San Francisco developer event, during which it will introduce a Tizen-running smartphone, The Wall Street Journal reported May 11.

The report added that a Tizen smartphone for India may be next, as Samsung focuses on emerging markets where consumer loyalty to Android isn't so firmly established.

Cars are another area where Tizen is likely to gain ground. In partnership with Intel, "Jaguar Land Rover is hiring Tizen developers to create software and services, such as mapping and entertainment for use in its vehicles," said the report.

Ken Hyers, a senior analyst with Strategy Analytics, told eWEEK, "It's a smart strategy for Samsung to create an ecosystem of devices powered by Tizen, outside of the direct control of Google [via Android] so that it has more control over the information created and collected by Tizen devices and over the direction that the ecosystem evolves in."

That said, Hyers added that operators in more developed parts of Asia and Western Europe—like U.S. carriers—haven't shown interest in Tizen, and so a Tizen-running smartphone in the United States is something he "doesn't see happening any time soon."

Keynote presenters at the developer conference promise to address Tizen's context within the industry, the future directions it could take—with the Internet of things posing particular opportunities—and how it can be used to create compelling apps for wearable products.

Hyers added, "Samsung's goal is to get as many partners as possible on board to support Tizen."