Tizen Gains Support of NTT Docomo, Orange, Huawei

The Tizen Association said Orange and NTT Docomo will sell Tizen-running smartphones, and an app store will arrive later this year.

Orange and NTT Docomo plan to "commercialize" Tizen-running devices, the Tizen Association said from the Mobile World Congress (MWC) show in Barcelona, Spain.

The organization additionally announced plans to launch a Tizen Store "later this year" that will offer "thousands of apps." More details about the store, the association promised, will be shared at the Tizen Developer conference in San Francisco in May, the group said in the Feb. 26 announcement.

The public release of the Tizen 2.0 Magnolia SDK in February "makes it possible for OEMs to make a wide range of Tizen devices tailored to customer needs at a local or market-specific level, leveraging the flexibility of the Tizen platform," Kiyohito Nagat, NTT Docomo senior vice president and a member of the Tizen Association board of directors, said in the statement. "We strongly expect more operators and OEMs to join this ecosystem in the future."

Samsung, the world's top-selling smartphone maker and the most successful backer of Google's Android platform, has said that it plans to launch phones running Tizen later this year.

A Samsung executive, speaking with Forbes at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, said Samsung is working to merge Tizen with Bada—Samsung's homegrown operating system, which launched on a handful of devices before the program was shut down—so that applications written for Bada will work in Tizen.

Tizen officials showed off an early version of a Tizen-running handset to select journalists at MWC, PCMag reported Feb. 27. The handset, which the officials said was far from a finished product, was fine enough but didn't stand out, said the report, which added that the phone had a sliding lock-screen, a pull-down settings menu, as on Android, and a home page populated by application icons, as on the iPhone.

Pressed for details, the Tizen officials offered no timing details, except to say that they are in no hurry to release Tizen into the market. That said, they noted that Huawei has also signed on to make Tizen devices.

"Huawei sees open-source and Web-based platforms as a good collaboration opportunity among key industry players," Huawei CTO Mikko Terho said in the Tizen Association statement. "Tizen provides a unique opportunity for us to work with operators, the Linux Foundation and W3C Consortium."

Representatives from hardware makers NEC Casio, Panasonic and Fujitsu also contributed to the statement. Fujitsu's Corporate Vice President Katsumi Takada said he "firmly" believes Tizen will be a success.

Tizen joins Ubuntu, Firefox and other new platforms that will try to break into a market heavily dominated by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Even established platforms, such as BlackBerry and Windows Phone, have had a difficult time building up their shares; each represents about 3 percent of the smartphone market.

The mobile carriers, however, have an interest in seeing more than two platforms succeed, and their backing is critical as to whether these smaller players can find their footing and succeed.

On the eve of MWC, Mozilla announced that 17 carriers had signed on to support devices running its Firefox OS, and it hopes to begin seeing them midyear.