Samsung’s long-awaited homegrown operating system has launched on a device in India — one the company has clearly designed to target a market that smartphone manufacturers are looking to as the next landscape of mobile.
The company’s first Tizen-operating smartphone is dubbed the Z1, and will serve a few functions to the mobile giant. One of Samsung’s goals in developing Tizen was to branch off of Android so as to be not so dependent on Google’s software. The open-source operating system is the product of a project powered by Samsung and Intel, and branched off of the kernel of the since-abandoned MeeGo system that Nokia and Intel worked on several years ago. Samsung’s global success has thus far only been with devices powered by Android, and Tizen will power some select devices from the company in the hopes that they take off in certain markets.
India is one of those markets coveted by companies in mobile; Android is vastly popular in the country. Microsoft’s Windows OS actually saw healthy sales in India last year (something Microsoft can’t say for most other markets). But — as with many other countries — Android still rules. With Android and Apple’s iOS as the two reigning operating systems of the world, some companies have looked to open-source software for alternative operating systems. Mozilla and Finland-based Jolla have branched off into alternative mobile OS’s like Samsung has, but the popularity of their devices is minuscule compared to the established mobile juggernauts. Samsung is likely looking to change that with a 5,700 Indian rupees (US$92) price tag on its Z1. Devices in such a price range have typically seen more success in India than high-priced devices such as Apple’s iPhone.
This product launch comes at a pivotal moment for Samsung, which just announced some disappointing profit results from its last quarter of 2014. Its third quarter saw a 60% fall in profits, and the fourth quarter showed no signs of real recovery for the South Korean corporation. Forbes reported that — considering the year-over-year figures — the estimate of operating profits still represents a 37% fall compared to Samsung’s fourth quarter in 2013. It is time for Samsung to bring something more to the table than its myriad of Android-based mobile devices, which according to analysts could be spreading the company’s resources too thinly across the global market and contributing to its decline in profits. Perhaps Tizen will be Samsung’s ticket to a new horizon of mobile success.