Samsung’s short-term strategy for Tizen is becoming clearer. The company has announced that the platform will be used to power all of its smart TVs released during 2015.
Much of the discussion around Tizen originally centred on its use as a smartphone operating system. However, the new TVs follow on from a range of Samsung Galaxy Gear wearable devices, which are Tizen powered.
But rival manufacturers Sony, TP Vision/Philips and Sharp have all committed to the Android TV platform. Sony’s involvement is particularly strong, and all of the Japanese company’s 2015 smart TVs will use Google’s OS.
Back in June 2014, Samsung issued a press release stating that its first ever Tizen smartphone, the Samsung Z, would be released in Russia during the third quarter of the year. The launch of the Samsung Z was later delayed indefinitely, with the South Korean manufacturer stating that it wished to increase the number of Tizen apps available before releasing the device.
There are reports that the Samsung Z has since been scrapped and that a revised version of the device will be released imminently. It is now believed that the first commercially available Tizen smartphone will be designated the Samsung Z1.
Samsung’s first Tizen smartphone is set to launch in India, competing directly against Android One handsets and other budget devices. The Samsung Z1 will reportedly go on sale for less than $100 (approximately €85, or £65).
It is clear that whilst Tizen still has a role to play as a smartphone OS, there will be no explosion of Tizen handsets across the world, going head-to-head with Android and iOS. As far as smartphones are concerned, for the immediate future Tizen will remain a back-up plan.
The smart TV market is fascinating, as it is not dominated by a single platform. In this sphere, at least, Android is still fighting to shape its future and does not hold the same kind of strategic influence that it has with mobile devices.
Samsung has switched to Tizen for its TVs, eschewing Android TV in the process, because there is a genuine opportunity for the platform to become a domineering presence in the market. The fact that Samsung is already the world’s largest TV manufacturer gives it a significant advantage as it seeks to establish Tizen.
WebOS and Android TV are impressive alternatives to Tizen
It is not a forgone conclusion that Tizen will become the standard when it comes to smart TVs. LG, the world’s second biggest manufacturer of TVs, has its own offering in the form of webOS.
WebOS is actually a former mobile OS that was bought by LG and adapted to run on TVs. Originally, webOS was developed by the now defunct Palm, to power its Palm Pre smartphones.
The failure of webOS to make an impact as a mobile platform had little to do with its capabilities. WebOS was actually extremely well received, and arguably handled multitasking much better than its rivals.
Ultimately webOS was let down by Palm’s mediocre hardware and lack of a significant marketing budget. Although Palm was later acquired by HP, the only entirely-new webOS hardware developed under new ownership was the HP TouchPad tablet.
Whilst webOS may prove to be a significant asset for LG, the commitment of Sony, TP Vision/Philips and Sharp to Android TV cannot be ignored.
Sony, TP Vision/Philips and Sharp remain relatively big players, and in 2013 had a combined global TV market share of 14.2%, according to data collated by Statista. Whilst less than Samsung’s 20.8% market share, their total was ahead of the 14% of LG.
If Android TV proves compelling enough on its own to be a major selling point, then Sony, TP Vision/Philips and Sharp are all in strong positions to grow significantly.
Tizen, webOS and Android TV will battle throughout the course of 2015, with the backing of the world’s major TV manufacturers. The result should be a range of compelling platforms to chose from, which will be great news for anyone wanting to buy a smart TV.