I glanced over the whole Tizen thing yesterday, but for those who haven’t been following the saga since Day 1, it might’ve been a lot to take in. What the hell’s a Tizen when it’s at home? Why should I care?
What we really need is someone to come along and provide a full but concise synopsis, perhaps with a few terrible jokes thrown in for kicks. Someone? Anyone? Yours truly? Why the hell not? Let’s rock!
To truly appreciate Tizen, we must first wind the clock back to 2010, when Mobot was but a twinkle in the Big Boss’s eye.
Yes, in 2010, Samsung rolled out a little something called bada (usually stylised with a lower-case ‘b’; means “ocean” or “sea” in Korean), an in-house operating system for smartphones.
Though relatively short lived, bada at one time commanded a larger share of the smartphone market than mighty Microsoft’s Windows Phone, and indeed the first-ever bada phone – the Samsung Wave S8500 (right) – shifted one million units in its first four weeks. Take that, first-gen iPhone.
The following year (that’s 2011 for the calendrically challenged), Tizen was announced as an open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation, with Samsung and Intel primarily at the helm.
The announcement was slightly perplexing, in the sense that Samsung was already juggling Android, Windows Phone 7, Windows 8, and of course little old bada.
The year after that (yep, 2012), there were whispers that bada would effectively be merged with Tizen, and the news was vaguely semi-confirmed several times over, over the course of 12 months. Confusing stuff.
Adding to that confusion, it was suggested in late 2012 that Samsung would ease off of Tizen/bada in order to concentrate on Android and Windows Phone. So at this point we’re about one year on from the initial Tizen announcement and still… nothing.
Kicking off 2013 with a bang, however, Samsung yelled: “We plan to release new, competitive Tizen devices within this year and will keep expanding the lineup depending on market conditions.” New? Competitive? Expanding? Ok, that sounds more promising!
Alas, Tizen was a complete no-show at Mobile World Congress (MWC) in February 2013, leading the mobile world to question: What the hell have they been doing for the past 18 months?
Fast-forward to March, and our hopes were raised again, this time by the lovely Lee Young Hee, who whispered: “The Tizen phone will be out in August or September, and this will be in the high-end category. The device will be the best product equipped with the best specifications.”
Needless to say, “August/September” came and went without a whimper, and worse still, there was no sign of the first Samsung Tizen phone at CES or MWC 2014.
So we’re 30 months from that first Tizen announcement, and seriously starting to wonder what’s going on. We’re all for taking things slow and getting things right, but this was just taking the proverbial P.
I should mention that Tizen appeared in a range of wearables at MWC 2014, causing a minor controversy in the sense that Samsung had clearly forsaken Android, but what we really wanted was the long-promised smartphone OS.
See, things are (or were) arguably quite stale at the top, with Samsung being the world’s top mobile manufacturer, and Android quite comfortably being the number one OS, so the prospect of Tizen coming along and shaking things up a little – possibly coming between Samsung and Google – was rather exciting.
But by the time the Samsung Z came along in June 2014, we were almost entirely deflated, accepting the notion that Tizen would likely stick to emerging markets, Sammo having hinted that the combination of Android, Windows Phone and iOS was more than enough choice for markets like the UK and US.
As if all that wasn’t farcical enough, the Samsung Z failed to meet its promised July 2014 release date in Russia, Sammo later explaining that it needed time to “further enhance [the] Tizen ecosystem”. Yes, because three years clearly isn’t enough time to get your ship in order.
Worse still, we’re now hearing that the Samsung Z has been shelved entirely, with the South Koreans instead focusing on low-end devices for emerging markets, which – let’s face it – have little chance against the colossus Google and its Android One project.
And that’s Tizen, ladies and gentlemen. A whole lot of nothing, essentially.