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7/28/2014
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Samsung's Tizen Smartphone: Dead On Arrival?

Samsung has indefinitely delayed the launch of its Tizen-based smartphone. Time to call it a failure?

Smartphones Of The Future: 6 Cool Technologies
Smartphones Of The Future: 6 Cool Technologies
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Samsung has put the launch of its Tizen-based Z smartphone on indefinite hold. The phone was expected to arrive in Russia this quarter, but the company today said it still has work to do. The problem? Developers haven't created enough apps for the platform. It may be time for Samsung to admit defeat from this effort and move on.

Samsung issued the briefest of statements today, saying that it needs to "further enhance [the] Tizen ecosystem." The statement echoes one Samsung made earlier this month, which said "The smartphone will appear on the Russian market later, when we can offer our users a fullest portfolio of applications." In other words, developers just aren't interested in creating apps for the Tizen platform.

Without apps, smartphones don't stand much of a chance in the market. We need only look at the former Palm and BlackBerry to see evidence of this.

[Weak Q2 financials and tepid Fire Phone reviews put Amazon on the defense. Read Amazon's Bruising Week.]

When Palm launched WebOS and the Pre in 2009, there were hardly any apps for the device. The platform never attracted developer attention (or at least as much attention as Android and IOS were getting) and had perhaps 20,000 apps when it folded completely. (HP bought Palm and WebOS in 2010 and subsequently killed it in 2011.)

BlackBerry and its BBOS 10 have fared better, though barely. BlackBerry's current generation devices never truly caught on, despite BlackBerry's intense efforts to whip up developer support. BlackBerry remains popular in some markets, but it has essentially become little more than a curiosity to US consumers. The company has been on the ropes for well more than a year.

Samsung has been working on Tizen for years. The platform is based on Linux and other open standards. It was meant to help Samsung break from its utter reliance on Google's Android platform, which has aided the company in selling hundreds of millions of devices. Trouble in Tizen-land has been brewing for some time.

(Image source: beycon.com.tr)
(Image source: beycon.com.tr)

Samsung was scheduled to launch its first Tizen smartphone in Japan back in January. Japanese wireless network operators balked at the last moment and cancelled the launch. Later, Samsung announced the Z and its intent to sell the device in Russia during the third quarter. Developers knew something was fishy when the phone didn't make an appearance at a Moscow developer event earlier this month. Today's delay will likely put to rest any hopes that the device and Tizen platform will succeed.

(Samsung also uses Tizen in its current lineup of smartwatches. It's unclear just how many Tizen-based watches Samsung has sold.)

With no (or too few) apps and no carrier support, Samsung's Tizen-based phone will be dead on arrival. It's time for Samsung hang up its Tizen hat.

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Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio

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mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
8/5/2014 | 8:04:03 PM
Re: Intel Needs to Accept Reality Regarding Tizen
I watched parts of the conference online. The speakers seemed to be in very high spirit. I see that the attendees were not.
I agree, $50 for the Intel NUC and the Gear was a good deal.

In any case, do you think Samsung, and the partners involved, will ever acknowledge defeat on the smartphone front?
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/29/2014 | 1:20:43 PM
Re: Sad
What surprises me is that none of the hardware makers (except Apple) have taken software seriously. 
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 11:34:23 AM
Re: Sad
I'm aware the operating systems themsevels are free, but with the Google and Apple OS' carving up such large chunks of the industry, they have enough sway to have an influence on many aspects of it. I'd be surprised if they didn't lean on the odd manufacturer now and again to push for certain things that benefit them rather than the consumer. 
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 10:31:31 AM
Re: Everyone knew it was a dumb move to begin with...except Samsung.
Tons of alternatives to both Garageband and iMove for free while many of the pay alternatives are even better.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 10:16:05 AM
Re: tizen a part of poker game
The name of the game is "control", not going to happen with FireFox as it would always be a shared environment.  As posted in other comments Samsung is a Google/Apple want to be not a Firefox want to be.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 10:12:47 AM
Writing on the wall
Its always better for consumers to have more choices and more competition so I was hoping something could come of Tizen but if Blackberry and HP couldn't pull off an alternate OS while Microsoft's WinPhone struggles I dont' know what Samsung thought they could do better.  At least Samsung's management  is listening to its marketing department unlike Microsoft.
DDURBIN1
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DDURBIN1,
User Rank: Ninja
7/29/2014 | 10:00:21 AM
Re: Sad
Price fixing, really? You are worried Google will start charging for Android?  Not going to happen.  Apple doesn't charge for iOS and never will either.  That just leaves you with Windows Phone and guess what, I hear Microsoft is going to make that free too.  Now that's the kind of price fixing I like, free.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
7/28/2014 | 4:36:10 PM
Re: tizen a part of poker game
Why didn't Samsung just adopt Firefox OS? Creating their own open source OS makes no sense.
xandertwit
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100%
xandertwit,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/28/2014 | 12:42:28 PM
tizen a part of poker game
The Korean governement is Concerned about Serious Dependence on Googles Android. So they urged their industries to develop its own. Furthermore it gives samsung a good position in the negotiations with Google. Samsung mostlikely get a piece of the pie of Google Android add-machine. Over 40% of Android devices is samsung...
johnDonavan
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johnDonavan,
User Rank: Apprentice
7/28/2014 | 12:31:22 PM
Tizen DOA
Tizen phones reminds me of how things were in mid 2000 era. Samsung used to create some junk apps just to make it appear as though there is some activity. There generally are no hard core userbase around these apps and they have 3rd class UI, rainbow colors and all.
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