Featured: This Tizen tizzy is nothing to get worked up about

Tizen, in case you weren’t aware, is a new Linux based mobile OS that has the backing of Samsung, Intel and the Linux Foundation. Though it isn’t much more than a pipe dream at this point, Tizen v1.0 was just released at the end of April, and the response from the Apple crowd has been tempered, but predictable none the less.

Noted iPhone/iPad/iOS lover MG Siegler of TechCrunch fame took to his personal blog yesterday in an effort to sound the Tizen warning alarm and strike fear into the hearts of Android lovers far and wide. In his post, MG says that:

You think, WTF? What’s the point? Why are Samsung and Intel and Sprint and others messing around with this? It sounds exactly like Android, just without the Google element…

…wait a minute — maybe that is the point!

That’s downright alarmist, isn’t it?

Tizen isn’t exactly new, as it has been talked about widely since fall of 2011, but now that Sprint and Samsung are all on board the typical “Android is dead” crap is starting to gain a little steam. It’s makes for good linkbait, but there are some pretty tall mountains for Tizen to climb before anyone takes it seriously.

  • There is no ecosystem in place, and that is harder than it looks. Microsoft, RIM and Palm/HP are all living proof that you can’t just show up at the party and expect to find a dance partner.
  • Samsung alone controls the Tizen software development kit or SDK, and it’s released under a very restrictive proprietary license. It’s going to be very tough to build support amongst device manufacturers and carriers alike when the Android alternative is totally at the whim and mercy of Samsung.
  • There will be no native app support in Tizen, HTML5 apps only. Maybe someday web apps will be the dominant force in mobile apps, but if now were that time Google would be all over it.
  • Samsung and Sprint are behind this effort, but that’s about it.

Though Tizen would have an uphill battle if Samsung decided to throw in and ditch Android in favor of a solution that they have a lot more control over. Uphill or not, Samsung might have a bit of a head start when it comes to supporting Tizen as a viable OS alternative.

  • Samsung has an app store for their device owners to use. It currently pimps out Android apps for Android phones, but a Tizen version for Tizen HTML5 apps wouldn’t really take much effort at all.
  • Samsung has its own music store. Not that anyone uses it because it seems to suck pretty hard, but it’s there and could be improved upon.
  • Samsung has its own video store. Like Music Hub, Video Hub isn’t the greatest, but again, it exists. You can take a really product and make it really great if you want to.
  • Samsung also has Readers Hub and Game Hub to go along with their other content consumption properties.

Having never used any of the Samsung media properties personally, I can only read what actual users that have experienced them have to say. It’s not pretty. At all. Again, that doesn’t mean that Samsung couldn’t make all of these things better and open up their assorted stores to all Tizen device manufacturers. But then, you’re swapping Google for Samsung. Is that something that the other Android OEM’s are likely to do?

Is Tizen a threat to Android if Samsung begins to push the OS on their devices? Maybe. It isn’t just that simple though. There are no apps, there is no support and there is no demand for this beyond Sprint and Samsung both pining for an OS that isn’t controlled by Google or Apple.

Would consumers still buy Samsung devices in the same numbers that they are if the OS were to suddenly switch to a new OS with another UI that they have to acclimate to? Would the take rate be lower amongst those smartphone users that would have to buy replacement apps for the Android apps that they’ve already paid for? Would consumers be willing to accept fewer apps again like they had to do with iOS and Android in the beginning?

Pay attention to Tizen, but do it with the realization that the infant OS has a lot of years and a lot of miles to go before it catches up to RIM, let alone Google.

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