Samsung have officially announced the Z1, the first commercially available smartphone running Tizen, their in-house operating system that has its roots in Bada. Samsung have also talked about their plans for Tizen OS and how they’re planning to flood the market. Given how Samsung have flooded many markets they sell into (witness the range of Galaxy-based Android-based smartphones we’ve seen in the last few years) this strategy seems something of a Samsung style. After all, if the customer sees yet another Samsung branded product every time he or she turns a corner, they’re going to feel compelled to buy Samsung, right? However, one difference between the Galaxy line of Android-based handsets and Samsung’s 2015 Tizen-based products is that they’re going to be entering the market using many different kinds of devices: most of their Tizen-powered products won’t be smartphones from the sounds of it, but instead Tizen will be used to spearhead their renewed push into the Internet of Things (IoT) scene.
What do we have to look forward to? All manner of products, from smartwatches (at least one will include a circular display), cameras, televisions and “smart” appliances. The company has plans to make almost all of their consumer products ready for the IoT by the end of the decade and Tizen will play a big part of this. In 2014, Samsung sold somewhere around 665 million devices and going forward, this means flooding the market with an enormous amount of Tizen-powered devices. Despite this, Samsung has also stated that it is not “abandoning other operating systems” and that means Android and Windows Phone will exist in their portfolio. However, it’s clear that Samsung believes there’s a bright future for Tizen, explaining that because Tizen is lighter than other operating systems, it requires less in terms of hardware – which has important advantages when it comes to running speeds and energy usage. And there’s more than a grain of truth here: we don’t necessarily want our fridge to be consuming more energy running the smart features than it is chilling our cheesecakes, right? The lighter approach does tend to mean that there’s less functionality built into the operating system, so perhaps Samsung will reserve alternative operating systems for some of its products until Tizen has evolved to the point whereby it can take over?
We’ll have to wait and see how Tizen evolves: at this juncture, I believe Tizen’s smartphone is going to struggle to make much of an impact this year. The smartwatch might, but it will in some part be reliant on another operating system or device. Instead, it’s the stuff behind the scenes that might start to rumble away. Let’s hope that Samsung keep Tizen open and compatible enough with alternative systems.