It's enough for now that Tizen is smart enough for dishwashers

16 November 2013 by Steve Blum
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Just load it in when you’re ready.

Smart phones might not be the primary intended target for Tizen, the alternative mobile operating system that’s under development and backed primarily by Samsung and Intel. The expectation – based on Samsung’s words and actions – was that we’d see Tizen smart phones entering the market right about now. But operators, in particular the European carrier Orange, are saying they don’t expect to be offering Tizen handsets until some time later next year.

That doesn’t mean Tizen is stalled, though. Samsung is selling a networked camera that uses a light version of the Tizen OS. Its recent developers conference was focused as much on smart televisions and other appliances as on mobile devices. That’s a market segment where there’s little consumer interest in underlying OSes and no established ecosystem of content and applications. So a lightweight, robust and largely royalty free OS could meet the needs of both customers and manufacturers, and wouldn’t suffer by comparison to iOS and Android.

It makes sense for Samsung to follow a two-track approach. It has a commanding position in the smart phone segment, accounting for something like a third of world wide sales. It’s been successful in adapting Android to low end phones and in challenging Apple with high end versions. Given that it has high degree of control over Tizen’s road map, it might not be much of a shift to load it onto existing product lines at an opportune moment. In the meantime Samsung can use Tizen to colonise the smart appliance space, taking advantage of a comprehensive line of products – from refrigerators to washers to vacuum cleaners – that its smart phone rivals, excepting perhaps LG, can’t match.