The Samsung Electronics Co. recently announced that its new Samsung Z smartphone will utilize the Tizen operating system instead of an Android operating system, prompting analysts to speculate that the South Korean electronics giant is in the process of ditching its traditional operating system. Press statements have announced that the new platform will offer quick start up times, and “immediate multitasking capabilities.” This latter feature, however, has not been clarified, and many technology experts are still uncertain as to what exactly “immediate multitasking capabilities” entails.
The new smartphone will be the first ever smartphone to feature the Tizen operating system, which was developed jointly by Samsung and Intel, although Samsung had long been indicating that it would be moving in this direction. The phone, which the Korean giant says will have a slim and angular design, is also expected to have approximately 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of memory, along with an 8 megapixel camera. Another interesting feature of the Samsung Z smartphone is the fact that it is slated to include a built in fingerprint scanner. Finally, it has been rumoured that Tizen OS provides better support for HTML5, a web language currently gaining favour among developers, than its Android rival.
Tizen OS is not Samsung’s first attempt to create its own operating system for its smartphones, although Bada, its last attempt, flopped in 2009 after application developers expressed disinterest. Tizen OS is expected to be able to run Android apps, although Samsung is hoping that developers will create unique apps for the new operating system. DJ Lee, Samsung President and head of Global Sales, emphasized the fact that Tizen will allow Samsung customers to enjoy faster browsing, and to utilize apps more effectively. However, the question remains whether or not this new phone is a sign that Samsung is set to ditch the Android operating system entirely.
This question has been fueled by the idea, posited by many analysts, that Samsung is seeking to unify the operating system across its devices, meaning a move away from Android. Tizen OS is already used in Samsung’s smartwatches, and this new smartphone has been interpreted by some people as the first step in Samsung’s new strategy. The impact that this strategy could have on the global smartphone market is significant due to the size of Samsung, as they made more than 30 percent of the world’s smartphones last year. This figure is nearly double that of Apple, and is indicative of the ability of Samsung to implement significant change on a global scale.
Certain analysts have predicted a tough initial phase for the new Tizen operating system, as apps for said system are likely to be much more scarce than apps from the App Store or Google Play. However, Samsung executives seemed optimistic in their press releases, and the system does have features which could attract the interest of consumers. Prices for this new smartphone have not yet been released, although the phone itself is expected to launch on June 3 at the Tizen Developers Conference in San Francisco. The initial success of this launch could very well impact the decision of Samsung to ditch Android in favor of its own operating system.
By Nicholas Grabe