Samsung aims for August release of Tizen smartphone
South Korean firm hedges OS options with open-source platform experiment
Samsung Electronics, smartphone market leader and the biggest seller of Android-based handsets, is working on bringing a new smartphone to market as soon as August, powered by the open-source Tizen OS, Bloomberg reported on Friday.
If the release makes its summer deadline, it would be one of three premium releases this year for Samsung, including the Galaxy S 4 in April and a new Galaxy Note.
The South Korean giant is not the only device maker experimenting with Tizen. Up to 12 such manufacturers are thought to be developing the platform for handset integration as some analysts speculate that Google, owner of Android, will shift focus to Chrome as it seeks to consolidate its mobility software units.
The search giant last week conducted a reshuffle of its divisions, replacing Android architect and division head Andy Rubin with Chrome overseer Sundar Pichai.
"For Google, it's not about the platform, but the ecosystem," said Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg, commenting on the apparent alignment between Android and Chrome following the launch of Google's touch-screen laptop, the Chromebook Pixel.
"They're more concerned long-term about Google Docs, Google Voice, Google Books, and less about helping Samsung sell more phones."
Samsung and others may also feel pressure to develop their own OS in the wake of Google's May 2012 acquisition of Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc for more than $12bn, a move that brought with it a host of industry patents.
"Android, among other mobile operating systems, is tightly controlled," Tizen Association spokesman Chase Perrin said in an email.
"As an open-source software platform, Tizen is designed to make it easy to develop for a range of devices."
"The Tizen phone will be out in August or September, and this will be in the high-end category," Lee Young Hee, executive vice president, Mobile Business, Samsung, said in an interview in Seoul.
"The device will be the best product equipped with the best specifications."
China-based telecoms equipment manufacturer Huawei Technologies has also committed its Devices group to developing Tizen.
"We see open source and Web-based platforms, like the one provided by Tizen, as a good collaboration opportunity," said Scott Sykes, Huawei spokesman. "Any discussion on specific products is premature."