Samsung has long been developing its own mobile operating system called Tizen, and even released a couple of phones, televisions and smart watches that use it. But will it ever gain real traction, or is it doomed to failure in the face of overwhelming dominance from iOS and Android?
Everyone knows that Samsung, the Korean technology giant, has been around for a long time and makes a huge range of products from televisions, microwaves, fridges, smartphones, tablets and smart watches. They have basically released products in nearly every consumer electronics category of the last decade or so. Samsung didn’t used to even be a big name in the mobile industry until, with the help of Android, the managed to beat the competition and release some of the best phones in the world to critical acclaim. They are now the number one smartphone company in the world, by volume.
Samsung’s recent troubles
However, the last year or so has seen their profits dip, they’ve issued several profit warnings to investors prior to their quarterly results, and in China they have dropped 50% in revenue in the face of stiff competition from the likes of Xiaomi (pronounced “shaow-mee”) who is attacking their profits in the low-end and mid-tier markets by producing some really excellent smartphones.
In terms of high-end smartphones which command high prices, Samsung faces stiff competition from Apple. Even though you may think Apple’s iPhones are overpriced, they still sell by the millions (analysts have recently estimated Apple sold 69 million iPhones in the last quarter in the run up to Christmas). Samsung then, is being attacked on both sides and feeling the pinch.
Samsung’s profits have been on the slide for five consecutive quarters. For the previous Q3 which ended in September, the company suffered a 60 percent drop in profits and an even larger 73.9 percent profit collapse in its Mobile division.
Tizen smartphones nowhere to be seen
Nowadays, Samsung is trying to push its own Linux-based mobile OS on the market, called Tizen OS. It’s not the first time that the company attempted to create its own alternative to Android, as it used to have an OS called Bada, which ultimately failed and was quietly dropped.
There haven’t been many smartphones that actually use Tizen, and those that were announced have been delayed many times. At the Tizen developer summit in Russia in July last year the Samsung Z was released, which is a mid-tier phone with a decent screen, 768 MB of RAM and 4 GB of internal storage, a 3 MP rear camera and VGA front camera, as well as a middle of the road dual-core CPU by Qualcomm.
Samsung really wants to push Tizen onto the market but there are lots of hurdles to overcome, all of which might eventually tempt Samsung to drop the whole project, or just use it on a select few devices such as smart watches, televisions and wearables.
Challenges faced by Tizen
One of the problems with Tizen is that it doesn’t have the integration of services such as those by Google. Furthermore, few developers want to create apps for it either – understandably, as there is currently nobody with a Tizen-powered phone in enough volume to make the effort worthwhile. Why would you create an app for a smartphone OS when nobody will buy the app? Samsung could of course pay developers to populate the Tizen app store with enough decent apps that could fill in most of the gaps, but it would be a huge uphill effort.
Samsung also doesn’t have some of the cloud-based services that the other companies have, such as Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive, or Google Drive. That’s a huge problem for people that want to synchronise contacts, photos, files and more between all their devices.
Tizen OS also lacks maturity – it’s nowhere near as polished as iOS and Android and doesn’t have a decent ‘ecosystem’ of related apps and services.
Will Samsung kill off Tizen?
In the end, Samsung definitely has the financial might to keep Tizen going as long as they want to, but if it doesn’t manage to gain any traction then the company may end up just killing the OS altogether. That would be a shame in some respects, as it would be great to have another competitor to Android and iOS that encourages and fosters more innovation and better products.
Perhaps Samsung ought to concentrate on improving its TouchWiz interface that sits on top of Android to provide the customised user interface on its smartphones and tablets, rather than developing another OS…
Let us know in the comments whether you think Tizen stands any chance of success. Would you buy a Tizen smartphone if the price was right?