To hear that Samsung is thinking about branching out and loosening their dependency on Android is nothing new. The company has tried many different ways. We’ve seen it with a small collection of Windows Phone devices in the past couple of years, and Samsung’s Bada OS was once pegged as being the company’s way out of the complicated Android ecosystem. Then, Tizen came along and that’s when we really started to worry.
What is Tizen?
Tizen is an open sourced Linux-based operating system jointly being developed by Samsung and Intel (and currently exists within the confines of the Linux Foundation). We’re not sure of Intel’s motives in the whole affair, but we’re definitely sure of Samsung’s.
The two companies have taken bits and pieces of their own operating systems — Bada and Meego — and used it to help craft this standards-based software that will aspire to go in phones, tablets, cameras, appliances and everything in between.
Samsung’s big move
Although Samsung might publicly deny it, the company definitely seems poised to break off into the wild on their own, and without Android. Numerous events leading up to today have made that apparent. For starters, Samsung has launched a full-fledged app store, and sometimes puts it so front-and-center that you’d think they didn’t know what the Google Play Store was. Samsung is obviously trying to lay the groundwork to launch and maintain their own software ecosystem.
The South Korean company no doubt wants to make sure said groundwork is solid enough before taking a big step onto it, and that’s why we’ve seen them continue to pump out Android devices year after year (after all, you can’t expect to be able to do much of anything if you’re not making money). The most damning evidence of Samsung’s aspirations to break off on their own came to light yesterday, when pictures of a Samsung Galaxy S4 running Tizen OS leaked out.
Does this mean we’ll soon see a Galaxy S4 re-release with Tizen? No, not necessarily. Hell, even industry insider Eldar Murtazin suggests Samsung is losing interest in Tizen because of the huge success they’ve had with Android.
But development of the operating system is far enough along that Samsung felt the need to test it on their biggest smartphone on the market. That alone is troubling, and could mean Samsung is quite close to beginning their trek in the smartphone market with a platform they can call their own.
Why not, I suppose. Even with a vast majority of the Android pie, Samsung probably feels like the market is getting too crowded and feel the need to want to differentiate themselves. The idea might have been crazier two years ago, but Samsung has gotten so big that they are the one company who could probably afford to do something like this. Do you think HTC or LG wouldn’t want to have something they can call their own? Hell, the former tried its hand with phones running BrewOS, a proprietary “smart” phone operating system that never quite took off.
Those companies don’t have much of a choice at this point. It takes a ton of time, money, and research to create an entirely new mobile ecosystem, and that’s just not something a lot of companies have. They cling to Android because Android allows them to differentiate themselves while using the same operating system as the next guy.
There’s a reason user interface experiences like HTC Sense, Samsung TouchWiz, and LG Optimus UI are so prevalent — it’s because these companies need something that makes them different. Without them, consumers would likely close their eyes and play “eeny, meeny, miney, moe” when it’s time to make their next purchasing decision.
But for Samsung, the possibilities are far greater thanks to the significant amounts of both market share and mind share. Samsung has created an identifiable brand that could stand on its own two legs, and they will look to leverage that in every single way as we move into 2014 and beyond. We’ve already seen it with the company’s Galaxy Gear smart watch, one that will only work with select Galaxy devices, so it’s not at all silly to suggest they’ll be looking to do the same for all of their other products in the years to come.