Investigating Samsung’s Tizen Experiment

by Matt Klassen on January 18, 2013

You may have never heard the name ‘Tizen’ before, but it’s the latest operating system set to hit the mobile market and it’s already backed by some of the most recognizable names in the industry. While avoiding the doom and gloom prophecies I’ve espoused previously regarding the effect operating systems like Tizen will have on the Android ecosystem, its time Tizen started to become the same sort of household name.

With a lineage so circuitous that one might think it was a product of generations of swinging or open marriages, Tizen exists as the end product of several disparate mobile initiatives. Not only does Tizen have Nokia as one of its parents through the Finnish company’s failed MeeGo experiment, its heritage also includes the likes of Samsung, Verizon, and Vodafone (to name a few) through the Linux Mobile Foundation.

Now under the auspices of Samsung and Intel (Nokia’s former MeeGo partner), Tizen is starting to market itself as a direct reaction to Android, with its parent companies claiming that their new mobile OS is more customizable than Google’s OS, and while Tizen will face all the challenges any new mobile platform invariably does, perhaps Tizen has the advantage of being a better version of its Android rival.

With such a storied history of being the default ‘rival’ platform, Samsung and Intel are hoping their Tizen brainchild will succeed where MeeGo and almost every other Linux based platform has failed. But while those predecessors hit the mobile market in a time of undisputed Apple dominance, the advantage for Tizen is that Google’s Android platform has already managed to blaze a trail for open source customizable Linux-based platforms, meaning if Tizen ever achieves any market success, perhaps Google’s OS is really its own worst enemy.

As mentioned, Tizen offers a level of customization that Android simply can’t match. As anyone in the Android ecosystem knows, although Google’s touts its platform as open source, handset vendors, carriers, and developers all have to agree on Google’s set terms in order to avoid widespread fragmentation.

For carriers the ability to heavily customize a mobile OS is extremely attractive, particularly given that in a market where carriers no longer have exclusive product distribution rights they have to depend solely on their own branded services to set them apart. Having the ability to fully customize Tizen allows them to uniquely brand the OS, helping sell their products instead of having to sell what Google tells them to sell.

Again, while Tizen is far from a sure bet in today’s cutthroat mobile market, it certainly has another ace in the hole: the marketing prowess and mobile dominance of Samsung. As the only Android partner to establish any sort of market dominance, Samsung currently stands as the king of the mobile world, a position the company is hoping it can use to leverage some success for its new Tizen project.

Further, having witnessed the spectacular failure of almost every Linux project before it, the Tizen enterprise has the ability to learn from others mistakes, avoiding pitfalls like development from community that have crippled previous attempts.

When consumers here in North America will see Samsung’s Tizen OS still remains to be seen, but with its storied lineage and the fact that several carriers have already committed to distributing the platform, the future of this Linux-based platform seems bright a little less bleak.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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