Samsung's delay of its Tizen-based smartphone is bad news for the mobile OS

samsungz appdrawer
Florence Ion

Samsung may have aimed to increase the market share of the Tizen mobile operating system, but it’s off to a really rough start.

Just after recent reports that Google came down on the company for prioritizing its own Linux-based watch software over Android Wear, there’s now news that Samsung’s high-end, feature-packed Tizen smartphone has been delayed for the second time.

The Samsung Z was slated to debut exclusively in the Russian market at the Moscow Tizen Developer Summit earlier this month, but the company only had demo units on hand at the event. Samsung’s reason for the lack of ready-to-sell units was that it was waiting for a fuller portfolio of apps to offer its prospective users. The company then officially announced the delay of the Z in a statement today, citing the same reasons as before: there just aren’t enough apps for the platform. A new release date was not announced.

It’s not a good sign if developers aren’t making apps for the nascent operating system. Samsung can’t sell customers on its marketshare alone, especially since it can attribute most of its smartphone and tablet sales numbers to the proliferation of Android worldwide. "Launching a new OS is a very difficult process," wrote Gartner principal analyst, Hugues J. De La Verge, in an email. "It requires a high level of support from third-party developers and operators. Product delays and/or cancellations can cause partners to pull back or have second thoughts on the level of support they want to provide to Tizen."

To add insult to injury, Samsung has also made a huge spectacle of the Tizen OS, throwing several developers conferences and attempting to get the buzz going by launching a line of wearables products that run the software. Samsung had said that it would use the Russian market to evaluate the performance of its Tizen OS on a smartphone before it brings it to other markets, but from the looks of it, it might abandon ship before it gets anything out the door.

It’s a head scratcher as to why any developer would make an app for Tizen, anyway, when one could easily publish an app to the Google Play store and reach almost a billion users around the world. The Samsung Z is a really nice phone—in my initial hands-on, I noted that Samsung should offer something like it for the regular Android-using folk (which it might with the Galaxy Alpha)—but does the Tizen OS have features and capabilities that could entice developers away from Android? It doesn't appear so.

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