Why Samsung needs more than Tizen to take on Android
Global smartphone leader Samsung Electronics is planning a new product launch next year based on its own Tizen operating system, the South Korean giant's strategic push to free itself from Android and blaze its own software path.
But after years of development and a handful of Tizen-powered smartwatches and cameras, the only product confirmed for a 2015 launch so far is a TV set.
While that may impress designers of smart homes, Samsung's failure to release a handset based on its own operating system is fuelling skepticism about its ability to build a meaningful software alternative to Apple Inc's iOS and Google Inc's Android in the all-important mobile sector.
Developers say that until there is a meaningful user base for Tizen they will have little incentive to make innovative software applications for the system, deemed crucial if Samsung is to convince wary consumers to try it out.
"I see it (Tizen) as very similar to Android but without the gigantic user base," said Brazil-based Eduardo Ribeiro, founder of app developer Kazoowa.com. "With that, it is hard to find benefits in developing for Tizen."
Analysts say Tizen will struggle to make a dent in the smartphone world. Android and iOS had a combined 95.8% market share in July-September, according to Gartner, with Microsoft Corp's Windows platform trailing as a distant third at 3%. Samsung smartphones currently operate on Android.
Samsung has more than 40,000 software development employees globally but its apps and content services have failed to stand out from the crowd, and the firm is winding back some projects.
The company on Friday said its ChatON messaging app -- one of Samsung's more recognizable services -- will be shut down in February.
Still, the tech giant is expected to press on with Tizen, particularly in the growing smart-home sector where the operating system's ability to run on devices with low computing power could be a big advantage.
Plans for the launch of a Tizen-powered television next year, revealed by a senior Samsung executive last week, would be a welcome addition to the smart-home business. Samsung declined to elaborate on the launch.
Samsung told Reuters in a statement it remained "committed to developing the Tizen ecosystem with a wide range of Tizen-based product categories".