We all know Samsung, Intel and a number of carriers don’t like the fact that current mobile landscape is dominated by Google and Apple. Microsoft and BlackBerry are also pushing it hard but their respective platforms hold only a fraction of the market.
Hence this diverse group of companies will be launching the brand-new Tizen platform, which gets its roots from Samsung’s Bada, Intel’s Moblin and perhaps even Nokia’s Maemo. The first Tizen-based smartphone will be launched later this year and honestly we don’t expect to be wowed by it, despite its potential monster hardware under the hood. The reason is obvious – it lacks apps, big time. And while I’m sure both Samsung and Intel will use their huge resources (read: money) to bring developers on board, it takes time for a critical number of high-quality apps to be deployed on a brand new operating system.
I’ve no doubts Tizen will manage to hit the 100,000 app mark by the end of next year, perhaps even sooner. That’s not my concern – what I would like to see is the two giants (and their carrier partners) experimenting with innovative form factors. Tizen could use a device like Asus Padfone all with its keyboard dock (which sadly isn’t available with newer Padfones). Mobile operators and even Samsung may not like this as they want to sell us multiple devices, rather than one that combines multiple functions.
Few years ago when I tried Moblin Linux, I liked it. Sure it needed some polishing like many other Linux distributions, but it was pretty useful. I’m hoping that Tizen smartphones will bring that (or even improved) Moblin experience when connected to a big screen, basically transforming a smartphone into a full-blown Linux PC. That’s something Ubuntu wants to do and I (want to) believe Tizen is aiming for that goal, as well. Just imagine the latest Intel Atom chip inside a phone that can be converted to a usable PC with no extra hardware (presuming you connect it to a TV or monitor).
Finally, in order to get things rolling, the companies behind Tizen should seriously engage with the community. The good example to follow is BlackBerry, which managed to grow its BlackBerry 10 OS app catalog in a record amount of time. This means talking to journalists and bloggers, providing incentives to developers, and giving a ton of devices for free (to developers, media, etc). That said, if Tizen folks are looking for someone to test their gear – they can always email me.
So does Tizen have a future? I think yes; however there are some things that must be done:
- Include support for most-popular web and social networking services – i.e. enable system-wide sharing and great native apps
- Go beyond “classic” device categories (smartphones, tablets, laptops) by launching a single device a la Padfone that combines all of them – carriers (and Samsung) could ruin this part
- Excellent web browser and email/messaging client – good example to follow is the BlackBerry Hub
- Look beyond smartphones (docking capability)
- Build app catalog quickly with focus on most popular apps in Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store
In wrapping it up I want to know what do you think of Tizen’s prospects? Does it stand a chance in today’s marketplace? And if so, what are the key features it should pack to succeed?