Samsung's Tizen Smartphone: Dead On Arrival? - InformationWeek

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7/28/2014
11:08 AM
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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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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. 
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.
Lorna Garey
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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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