Tizen Refocuses on Budget Smartphone Market

by Matt Klassen on November 21, 2014

The last two years have been a long, circuitous road for Samsung’s revolutionary Tizen mobile operating system, and we haven’t even seen a viable, competitive handset come to market yet. Once touted as a possible candidate as a third player in the high end global mobile market, a rival for Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, it’s become clear that such waters may be too deep for Tizen, forcing the OS to undergo a major refocus.

In an admission that underscores just how competitive the high end smartphone sector is today, it seems the Tizen team has started to navigate a new path, away from the high end side of the market and towards the middle and budget ends of the spectrum, attempting to compete with Google’s Android One, as well as emerging Asian mobile companies like Xiaomi, aiming to bring a better, more feature rich product to these markets at a price that’s still affordable.

But given that Tizen has already undergone its first major rebranding before we’ve even seen it enter the market certainly does not bode well for the fledgling Samsung-backed project, as the operating system that was touted as a revolution in open source customization and Samsung’s saviour from Android is now aiming its sights considerably lower, towards a budget market that Samsung is quickly losing ground in as well. 

There’s no question that Samsung is starting to fall on some hard times in the mobile market, as although the company’s presence in the high end smartphone market remains secure, the company’s budget strategy—which has always consisted of dumping older generation phones into emerging markets—is now facing some stiff competition, as the likes of Xiaomi in China and Micromax in India are usurping traditional Samsung territory by offering more affordable phones with better features.

So perhaps it makes sense for Samsung to redirect its Tizen experience to a place where the company needs the most help, as let’s be honest, Tizen wasn’t going to dethrone Android or iOS any time soon. By rebranding Tizen as a budget platform, creating phones in the price range of $100 unsubsidized, Samsung will be better able to compete with Google’s own Android One budget offering, as well as perhaps recoup some of its market losses in China and other emerging Asian markets.

“We’re just focusing on the midrange and low end at this moment,” Taesoon Jun, Samsung’s chief architect on Tizen, said in an interview last week at the company’s developers conference in San Francisco.

But as CNET’s Shara Tibken notes, the fact that “inconsistency has been one of the few consistent traits of Tizen” means that such an about face will mean that Tizen once again will be forced to start from the beginning, the company now “infinitely delaying” all of its impending smartphone releases, heading back to the drawing board in an effort to find a way to stay err… become relevant.

While I have always embraced Tizen as a quality third place alternative to the market incumbents, this repeated failure to launch does not bode well for any future success, as its become clear that as Samsung becomes more desperate to retain its market position so Tizen becomes less focused as a project, a rudderless ship that floats wherever the winds of change may take it; certainly not a path to success.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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