Samsung Taps Intel To Build A New Linux-Based Open Source Platform: Tizen

It’s no secret (at least, not anymore) that Samsung is scrambling to diversify its mobile platform offerings. Bada, while smart, is kind of a bust, and Android is currently hanging in the balance until everyone figures out just what Googorola‘s plans are.

In the meantime, Samsung’s been a busy little bee, signing a deal with Microsoft to cross-license patents in exchange for Android royalties and collaboration on Windows Phone. But that’s not all. In conjunction with Intel, Samsung is backing the launch of a new open source Linux-based OS called Tizen, which will inevitably replace the recently abandoned MeeGo platform.

Hosted by the Linux Foundation, Tizen is meant for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, netbooks, and ICE systems, and should be ready to go (both in OS and SDK form) by the first quarter of 2012. Big name members of the Linux Foundation include Fujitsu, Panasonic, NEC, Motorola, and ARM, though it’s unclear who will play a major role outside of Intel and Samsung.

With the new Tizen OS being open source and based on Linux (just like MeeGo), Intel’s Director of Open Source Technology Imad Sousou brings up a wonderful question: “Why not just evolve MeeGo?” In a blog post on the matter, he goes into detail.

We believe the future belongs to HTML5-based applications, outside of a relatively small percentage of apps, and we are firmly convinced that our investment needs to shift toward HTML5. Shifting to HTML5 doesn’t just mean slapping a web runtime on an existing Linux, even one aimed at mobile, as MeeGo has been. Emphasizing HTML5 means that APIs not visible to HTML5 programmers need not be as rigid, and can evolve with platform technology and can vary by market segment.

A question worth asking is what happens to new owners of the only MeeGo-powered phone out there, the Nokia N9. The answer, however, is a bit unclear. First, Intel promised to continue the development of MeeGo with updates already in the pipeline. But early this month, reports circulated that Intel would indeed kill MeeGo development “temporarily.” But Sousou has a response: “Over the next couple of months, we will be working very hard to make sure that users of MeeGo can easily transition to Tizen, and I will be working even harder to make sure that developers of MeeGo can also transition to Tizen.”

Another question is what happens to Bada? Samsung already has Android, Windows Phone 7 (which should become more prominent to the phone maker after the aforementioned licensing deal) and now Tizen. Diversity is a great thing, but no one ever benefited from spreading themselves too thin.