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Samsung abandoning Android? ‘Tis Tizen?

March 27, 2013

Gary Schwartz is president/CEO of Impact Mobile

Gary Schwartz is president/CEO of Impact Mobile

By Gary Schwartz

The elephant in the room at the Galaxy S4 smartphone launch in New York was Android. Not one word about the Google-owned operating system. Is all well in Camelot? And, more importantly, why does this matter?

Some industry pundits such as ABI Research analyst Aapo Markkanen say there is a clear and intentional distancing of Samsung from its existing OS partner, Android. Does Samsung want to reduce its almost total dependence on the platform over the next few years?

Samsung seems to quietly be building independently on top of the Android OS and may make a jump to a more neutral industry partner by 2016.

Microsoft’s Windows has not offered a compelling alternative to Android. What are other options?

Mozilla (Firefox) and Linux (Tizen) are going head to head to capture next-generation developers with their Web-based operating system. The Firefox and Tizen SDK and API allow developers to use Web-based HTML5.

Linux risen
Tizen, a Linux Foundation initiative, may have the edge.

Tizen is an open source, standards-based software platform for multiscreen devices such as smartphones, tablets, netbooks, in-vehicle devices and smart televisions. Like Firefox, it provides a cross-screen environment for application developers, based on HTML5.

Samsung abandoned its homegrown smartphone OS, Bada, in 2011 and announced earlier this year that it would start developing Tizen-based devices: “We plan to release new, competitive Tizen devices within this year and will keep expanding the lineup depending on market conditions.” (Samsung had proudly introduced the Bada OS with the introduction of the Samsung S8500 in 2009.)

Since Symbian
Remember back in the mobile day when Symbian become the first modern mobile OS on a smartphone with the launch of the Ericsson R380 in 2000?

While Symbian and the Nokia empire captured the global market in the early 2000s, it was only when Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the “large screen iPod,” “mobile phone” and “Internet communicator” in 2007 that the OS wars began in earnest.

That same year the Open Handset Alliance, which launched Android 1.0 in 2008, was established by Google, Samsung, HTC, Sony, Dell, Intel and others.

Also, outside of the BlackBerry and Palm’s webOS debacle in 2009, it has been an iOS and Android skirmish. The recent Windows Phone OS and BlackBerry 10 do not have the installed base to turn any heads.

Jail-breaking Apple
Apple initially thumbed its nose at the wireless carrier’s closed system that forced their subscribers to consume their curated content. To the joy of Web surfers everywhere, Apple opened up content freely through its open mobile Web browser.

However, Apple soon shifted its business model to a closed proprietary operating system.

With Apple taking the initial market lead, it used this closed system to sell its phones.

Apple differentiated itself by leveraging its existing iTunes hegemony and its applications universe, which it carefully controlled and curated, ironically much the same as the carriers had a few years earlier.

With two main screen formats and a simple software developer’s kit (SDK), Apple made it easy for developers to produce content and made sure that no other system will be able to compete based on content.

Even to this day the Apple MINI’s are sold with the bold tag line of “300,000 apps for everything you love.” Android was forced to follow Apple’s marketing hype.

BY SAMSUNG adopting a Web-based OS, the market will shift, as it always does, from a closed to an open system.

The implications are significant to the connected screen economy and place app development in a more mature Web mainframe on the device.

The app store now can exist in a more manageable Web environment with bookmark apps and not get lost in widget-design interface – itself an interface promoted by Apple, in large part, to sell its devices.

Gary Schwartz is president/CEO of Impact Mobile, Toronto. Reach him at

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