At the end of last month we reported rumours that Samsung was planning to develop Tizen-based phones, in partnership with Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo. Now Samsung has confirmed its intention to build hardware for the Intel-backed Linux-based Tizen platform. In an emailed statement to BloombergBusinessweek, Samsung said: “We plan to release new, competitive Tizen devices within this year and will keep expanding the lineup depending on market conditions.”
The company’s statement is very light on details — with nothing about device type, specifications or price, and no launch timeframe beyond “this year”. We’ve reached out to Samsung for confirmation of its plans and to ask for more details and will update this article with any response.
Samsung is clearly looking at ways to reduce its reliance on Google’s Android platform which ships on the lion’s share of its hardware, including the popular Galaxy line of devices. The Korean electronics giant does have other OS irons in the fire — such as its Bada platform for lower end devices (although this time last year Samsung was talking about merging Bada and Tizen), and also a line of Windows Phone handsets, such as the Ativ S. We’ve also asked Samsung to confirm whether Bada will be merging with Tizen or carry on as a standalone lower end OS.
Samsung’s strategy of offering a vast portfolio of devices with screen sizes and price-tags ranging from the cramped to the gigantic is matched by its willingness to offer multiple OSes — giving it another way to spread itself across the market while ensuring it can hedge its bets. Too much power being concentrated in Google’s hands — with the Android OS shipping on three out of every four handsets sold worldwide in Q3 last year (IDC’s figure) — is also likely to be making Samsung increasingly uncomfortable. And while Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform offers an alternative to Android, it’s not a solution to power being concentrated in someone else’s hands. Whereas the open source Tizen platform is a partnership between Samsung, Intel, the Linux Foundation and others.
BloombergBusinessweek quotes Byun Han Joon, an analyst at KB Investment & Securities in Seoul, on the partnership: “The Tizen was born as Samsung hoped to lighten its growing dependence on Google on concerns that its top position in the smartphone market may weaken following the Google-Motorola tie-up. Intel always wanted to boost its presence in the mobile CPU market.”