BARCELONA—Mobile operators are passionate about the Tizen OS, but it appears there’s a lot of work to do before the smartphones running it will go on sale later this year.
Following the launch of Firefox OS on Sunday, the Tizen Association demonstrated its operating system on Tuesday in Barcelona. The demo used unspecified hardware from Samsung running the recently released version 2.0, which showed some teething issues with, for example, a browser that stuttered when scrolling up and down.
But its supporters, which include Orange, NTT DoCoMo, Samsung Electronics, Huawei Technologies and Intel, don’t seem too worried.
“We are not in a rush, our customers are not in a rush,” said Yves Maitre, senior vice president of Mobile Multimedia and Devices at Orange.
Both Orange and DoCoMo plan to start selling the first smartphones based on Tizen during the second half of the year.
The Tizen project was born in September 2011 when the Linux Foundation and Limo Foundation rebooted their efforts to compete with Apple and the Android camp by merging MeeGo and Limo.
Of the new OSes that want to challenge Google’s and Apple’s dominant position, Tizen has the most impressive lineup of supporters who want to increase competition in the smartphone sector and, in the case of phone makers, lessen their reliance on Android. Operators would like to rely less on Apple.
The most important one is Samsung, because of its deep pockets and dominant position in the smartphone market, thanks to the success of Android-based products such as the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II. But the big question for the company is to what extent it is wiling to risk that success and profit to become less dependent on Google.
Samsung’s Hankil Yoon said no decision had been made about the fate of its own operating system, Bada. Fujitsu, KT, NEC, Panasonic, SK Telecom, Sprint and Vodafone are also backing Tizen.
How much money Samsung and the other backers decide to spend on marketing Tizen will be key to its chances for success, according to Francisco Jeronimo, research director at IDC. It will also have to convince users that there is a value in having a smartphone with an open operating system, which won’t be easy.
“What they really care about is the experience and the price,” Jeronimo said.