The possibility that the Tizen operating system can survive is dropping. Samsung announced Monday that its Samsung Z smartphone, specifically designed for the mobile OS and ready for a third quarter launch in Russia, is being postponed.
Samsung said in a statement Monday that, in order "to further enhance [the] Tizen ecosystem, Samsung plans to postpone the launch of Samsung Z in Russia." The company added that it "will continue to actively work with Tizen Association members" to further develop the Tizen OS and the ecosystem. No word was given as to when -- or if -- there might be an eventual release.
The Z and accompanying software had been expected to debut at a developers conference in Moscow earlier this month, but that launch was cancelled.
'Less Than Five Percent'
Members of the Tizen Association, an industry consortium aimed at promoting the platform, include Intel, NTT Docomo, Vodafone, Fujitsu and Huawei, in addition to Samsung.
A key sign of whether interest is developing for a platform is the level of interest by third-party developers. But Jeffrey Hammond, a VP at Forrester Research who covers development professionals, told us that Tizen doesn't appear to be happening for developers.
"I’m not seeing much interest in Tizen at all," he said, adding that "less that five percent of developers we survey show any active interest."
Samsung was hoping that Tizen could help lessen its reliance on Google's Android platform, which is otherwise the only OS it uses for its smartphones and tablets. In fact, the South Korean company said last month that it was moving to decrease its dependence on Android. Additionally, Tizen or any platform other than Android could allow Samsung to distinguish itself in the increasingly important world of services.
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, pointed out to us that Samsung is "still using [Tizen] on one-and-a-half smartwatches."
'Slightly Better Battery Life"
The "one" watch is the Galaxy Gear II, and the "half" is the original Galaxy Gear, which can be retrofitted to replace Android with Tizen. It is also used on two Samsung cameras, the NX300M and NX30, and the company has displayed prototypes of TVs running Tizen, although release dates have not yet been announced.
"Supposedly," Greengart told us, "what [Tizen] will get you is slightly better battery life." He added that "superficially," a Tizen interface "looks very much like Android running [Samsung's interface overlay] TouchWiz."
In general, he said, he's not optimistic about alternative mobile operating systems in a world that is so dominated by Android and iOS.
The Linux-based, open source Tizen was originally developed by Samsung for use in smartphones, tablets, cars, smart cameras, and smart televisions. The platform is a project of the Linux Foundation, and its development is guided by a committee whose members include Samsung and Intel.
Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo said in January that it was cancelling its plans to carry a Tizen-based smartphone from Samsung, and French carrier Orange SA has similarly cancelled plans to offer a Tizen device.