Samsung gets 36 new firms on-board for Android-rival Tizen

15/11/2013

Tizen, a potential new rival to Android backed by Samsung and Intel, has got new 36 companies on board to support the operating system ahead of its full launch planned for 2014, including eBay, Konami, McAfee, Panasonic, and The Weather Channel.

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The deal was announced by the Tizen Association, which says it aims to broaden support for the OS.

The operating system is born from the ashes of Intel and Nokia's MeeGo, and bolstered by Samsung, which folded its own Bada OS into Tizen in February of this year. The Tizen Association is made up of executives from a small group of companies, with Samsung and Intel best represented by officers and directors.

The full list of new partners was announced at the Tizen Developer Summit, and includes game publishers, mobile carriers, and electronics giants, apparently enticed by Tizen's open source nature and flexibility.

Long term strategy for Samsung

Tizen is seen as part of Samsung’s long-term strategy to give the company more flexibility in the way it develops relationships with its customers.

Tizen is also attractive to developers, as it promises to run software written in the HTML5 web language smoothly.

Mozilla's Firefox OS also relies on HTML5, offering developers the prospect of cross-platform compatibility in which they can write a single version of their app for multiple operating systems, helping cut costs and coding time.

HTML5-based apps can also be made to work on Android and iOS. But developers, including Google and Facebook, faced performance issues when they released products using it, and later switched to native versions.

The first handsets running Tizen were expected to be out by the end of this year, but that date has now slipped. They are expected to be aimed at the lower end of the smartphone market rather than premium models.

Samsung has previously hinted at greater ambitions for the Tizen OS, indicating it might feature in everything from TVs to systems for car infotainment (media content mixing information with entertainment).

Moving away from Android?

There has also been speculation that Samsung could take another tack by "forking" away from the Google-released version of Android.

This would involve it developing its own version of Android, which would no longer offer all the search company's services.

So, for instance, it might only support the Samsung Apps and Hub marketplaces but not the Play equivalents - preventing Google from taking a cut of sales.

To date, Amazon is the only company to have succeeded in doing something similar, with its Kindle Fire tablets.

But that has come at a price. Some developers have not made the necessary tweaks to make their software compatible with Amazon's customised version of Android, Fire OS.

Samsung may feel it has the clout to pull off a similar feat in the future - but unless it can build compelling alternatives to Google's own services, it risks alienating its consumer base rather than fostering the loyalty it craves.

The only device that currently ships with Tizen is a camera. In March, Tizen Expertsestablished that the Samsung NX300 ran the OS, but hid it behind user interfaces similar to the camera's predecessors'. No commercially available phones or tablets currently run Tizen out of the box, although many device manufacturers have announced plans to utilize the OS in the future.

Read the official Tizen announcement here, with the full list of partners

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