News Column

Samsung backs Tizen for smartphones

February 23, 2014

ESMOND SHAHONYA Special Correspondent -1

An ambitious effort to roll out smartphones powered by new software is in the offing with tech giants like Samsung and Intel pushing for an Android alternative.

Samsung, DoCoMo of Japan and Orange, together with other carriers and device makers, are tinkering with the release of phones running on Tizen OS.

Tizen is Linux-based just like Android. It is a standards-based software platform for multiple device categories, including smartphones, tablets, net-books, in-vehicle devices, smart TVs, and more.

The new platform is backed by handset manufacturers Samsung, Fujitsu and Panasonic, carriers DoCoMo, Orange, and Vodafone, and chip maker Intel.

Already, several strategies have been mooted. In one, Samsung and Intel are sponsoring a contest that will dish out $4 million worth of prizes for Tizen apps developers.

Besides, Samsung has hosted a number of conferences aimed at luring third party apps developers and other interested parties. Like most open software, Tizen's future rests with an ecosystem of world-wide developers, device makers and carriers.

The battle for supremacy in the smartphone category has over the years pitted Android devices against Apple iOS devices. The intra-Android competition has not stifled companies from keeping Android as the cornerstone of their respective smartphone strategies, but has fed the urge to innovate. This has propelled the Android platform into a runaway success despite issues of fragmentation and security.

According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the Android operating system accounted for 81 per cent of all the smartphones shipped during the third quarter of 2013. At a time BlackBerry recorded declining uptake, the Android OS stayed ahead of Apple's iOS.

Looking back results, the Android operating system grabbed the lion's share of the market with 70.1 per cent against Apple's iOS of 21 per cent, during the fourth quarter of 2012. Samsung took 42.0 per cent of all Android smart phone shipments during that year.

Given the stiff competition in the mobile world, it is not surprising that runaway success and imminent death for a number of mobile platforms co-exist. The fear of drowning and delays in launch are threats to Tizen's survival in the murky waters of mobile competition.

For example, some carriers have delayed or shelved plans to launch Tizen-based devices. NTT DoCoMo in Japan, which had originally planned to launch Tizen devices early this year, has since gone silent.

Another carrier, Sprint, which joined the Tizen Association in 2012, together with TelefÓnica of Spain, are yet to commit to rollout of Tizen products.

Survival of the fittest is the name of the game in the mobile sector. This can be clearly demonstrated by Nokia's switch to the Windows operating system.

Nokia'sSymbian platform used to be a market leader before Apple's iOS and Android began a two-horse race. Symbian is slowly dying after Nokia abandoned it for Windows. Since Windows phones are yet to appeal to a majority of users, Nokia has an uphill task. As Nokia struggles to shake off competition,

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Source: East African, The

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