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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:
(Image source:

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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IW Pick
User Rank: Ninja
7/28/2014 | 12:27:43 PM
Bit of a sad day. Part of me was hoping Tizen would become a new wearable centric operating system that helped companies break free from Google's dominance. Seems like the search giant will continue overseeing much of the future's tech trends. 

Here's hoping Windows Phone blows up and provides us a third choice, as the current offerings leave me worried about price fixing.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/28/2014 | 12:18:00 PM
Tizen Failure
This comes as no surprise to me, and hopefully it is DOA so Samsung can redirect efforts elsewhere as another user had mentioned.

Others have mentioned that a full app catalog is not necessary, but it is not a question of need, it is a question of want and convenience. The bottom line is that Tizen, or BB or WebOS didn't give you any incentives for being limited to a smaller catalog. In other words, the price is mainly dependant upon the hardware of the phone not the software it's running. Therefore a high end Tizen phone will cost roughly the same as a high end Andriod or iOS phone. Why would anyone want to pay around the same and not have an extensive app catalog at their disposal? This is the same reason that BB and webOS have faltered as well.

I actually had a Palm Pre, and so from experience can tell you that although webOS had the so-called staple apps mentioned on here, it was huge let down not to have all the other apps that were constantly churning out for the main platforms - whether or not they were necessity or just a fleeting interest. For these reasons Android and iOS will reign supreme, until someone can justify why another platform is needed (windows has and continues to make the case for a 3rd and their recent push for One platform may bear fruit).
User Rank: Apprentice
7/28/2014 | 12:15:06 PM
Re: How many is enough?
Well said.
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 12:09:06 PM
Re: Everyone knew it was a dumb move to begin with...except Samsung.
>>I think Samsung wants to try be more like Apple where they control everything including software. The fact is Samsung is not Apple and never will be.<<

Exactly. However I disagree that they couldn't be Apple.. if they wanted. 

What is seriously lacking on ALL android devices is a major software developer (Except google).

So these companies create garbage apps, dump them on their garbage home screen software that overlays Android, and think that's enough.

It's NOT enough. If Samsung wants to compete, they need to create serious software for editing videos, making music, editing documents. 

Instead, their "Video editor" can't even load some of video (the slo-mo) from their S5 or Note phones!!

And it can only export at 1280x720. And basically it's utter garbage.

Where's the creative software? Their "photo editor" takes a pefectly nice 13 or 16 megapixel photo and drops it down to 1920x1080. I mean seriously?

S-voice, and all the other crapware (both by samsung and others) installed on Samsung phones, only makes it that much more obvious that these android companies have no clue why IPhones sell. They sell because Apple takes software development seriously. Not just the OS, but providing some basic apps to get the user going. 


I love my Note 3 and S3 before it, but I really really miss apps like Garageband and iMovie. There's nothing, nothing like these on Android. 
Harry Devlin
Harry Devlin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 12:06:32 PM
Re: Everyone knew it was a dumb move to begin with...except Samsung.
Samsung's support of Tizen has been half-hearted at best. For the watch, it really didn't matter what the OS was. For the phone it does. The fact that they were only planning to launch the phone in Russia says a lot about how confident they were about the product.

Maybe instead of sanctions against Russia, for their role in Ukraine, the UN could require them to use only Tizen-based devices.
Harry Devlin
Harry Devlin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 12:02:53 PM
Re: How many is enough?
No needs thousands of apps, but a great many people use a couple of esoteric apps that are only available for Android.

What's the upside of Tizen? None. Intel funded it simply because they wanted an OS more suitable to their own processors.
Harry Devlin
Harry Devlin,
User Rank: Strategist
7/28/2014 | 11:58:39 AM
Intel Needs to Accept Reality Regarding Tizen
I went to the Tizen developer conference in San Francisco a couple of months ago. It was pretty clear that Tizen was on life support. Most of the attendees were there just to get the Samsung Gear watch and the Intel NUC. For $50 it was a pretty good deal considering all the swag and the food.

The bottom line is that if Intel wants to enter the embedded market they will have to make more use of their ARM license(s) and begin producing SOCs with the ARM architecture, and bid a fond farewell to x86 for embedded. With their advanced fabs they'd be in a good position to take market share away from Broadcom, Qualcomm, and Nvidia.

For now, Intel seems content to be a contract fab for those companies, rather than compete against them, .
User Rank: Apprentice
7/28/2014 | 11:43:06 AM
Everyone knew it was a dumb move to begin with...except Samsung.
Samsung doesn't understand opensource like Google does.  The smart move would have been to try put all that wasted time and money and effort into making Android better.  Google started Android with this in mind from the beginning. 

Samsung has the clout with Google to get them to listen and accomodate Samsung in various ways. That still wasn't good enough for them.  I think Samsung wants to try be more like Apple where they control everything including software. The fact is Samsung is not Apple and never will be.
User Rank: Apprentice
7/28/2014 | 11:37:26 AM
Re: How many is enough?
You only need few basic apps on a smartphone that are truly useful; text messaging, navigation, maybe weather and traffic alert, and maybe apps like quickoffice. All the other thousands of apps really aren't necessary for most people
Lorna Garey
Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
7/28/2014 | 11:29:52 AM
How many is enough?
It's a bit nuts that 20,000 apps is considered a dismal failure. Seems like there are probably no more than 200 apps that are used fairly universally -- social apps, mapping, one or two in each category like shopping, gadgets, etc. What's the point of a 200,000-plus roster of apps? The vast majority have to be crap.
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