Tizen out to prove one invisible OS is as good as another

21 March 2014 by Steve Blum
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Enough treats to attract developers.

Samsung is following Google into the wearable operating system space. Its Android alternative – Tizen – now has a software developer kit available specifically for wearable devices, including, of course, the Samsung Gear smart watch. The release came close on the heels of the announcement of 64 winners of the $4 million app development challenge the Tizen Foundation launched last year.

The contest was particularly aimed at HTML5 developers, who were offered $50,000 bonuses on top of the regular prizes, which ranged up to $250,000. The cross-platform encouragement paid off, according to the a post on the Tizen Foundation blog

Many of the apps that were submitted also appear on other platforms. This was expected and encouraged. It’s become increasingly common for app developers to use middleware like Marmalade, Sencha, Unity, Cocos2d-x, and others to develop apps, and with Tizen as one of the export targets it makes sense to get them into the store. In addition, we saw a large number of HTML5 apps that were already written for other platforms ported to Tizen specifically for the challenge. In one notable case, one of the grand prize winners took three days to adapt an existing (and quite extensive) HTML5 app for Tizen.

Plans for launching Tizen-based smart phones aren’t going anywhere right now, but Samsung’s OS is well positioned for new and growing market segments. There’s no winning operating system standard yet for wearables. Appliance and television OSes are largely embedded systems – invisible to users – that focus on vertical, manufacturer-developed applications. The strategy seems to be to flank Android by targeting new product categories, while maintaining sufficient contact with the smart phone market to keep Google honest.