The Tizen Post

BusinessInsider published an interesting article about Samsung, the Tizen mobile operating system and Apple. Some of the assertions in the article looked over certain facts about Tizen.

What is Tizen?
Tizen is a mobile operating system based on Linux, in this respect it shares common ground with Firefox OS, Ubuntu for smartphones and Google’s Android operating system. It has gone through a number of iterations to become what it is today. Tizen can trace its development back to Intel and Nokia’s separate efforts to develop a next generation Linux-based mobile operating system. Both companies had put their weight behind WiMax rather than LTE for fourth generation mobile networks so merging their offerings into one distribution could help move things along. The merged product became Meego. Samsung merged their LiMo mobile Linux effort with Meego to create Tizen. Tizen also gained components from Samsung’s Bada operating system.

BusinessInsider assumes that Tizen is a Samsung thing
Whilst Samsung is the lead in Tizen, and has some of the technology wrapped in onerous licences,  Tizen has attracted support from other vendors. The Tizen Association includes Fujitsu and Huawei as rival vendors. Huawei is one of the largest Chinese mobile phone vendors, so competition for Samsung at the low and mid-range of it’s market.

Tizen is a premium product
Tizen could be a premium product and it could be a source of differentiation based on the user experience and performance of the software with the hardware. At the moment however it may not look that way, Tizen on phones looks suspiciously like Android on a Samsung phone. Which is interesting given that a number of Samsung challengers like HTC, Huawei and Oppo are pushing the user experience differentiation further with varying degrees of success

Secondly, the code merged in from the Bada framework was not designed for premium handsets, however you could argue that it would perform better since it was leaner on high performance devices.

What I think is more interesting about Tizen is its apparent husbanding of computing resources; the Samsung Gear 2 watch has a battery life that is reported twice to three times as long as the original Samsung Galaxy Gear. Given the size of the device, an appreciable amount of this change must be due to optimisation work that Samsung did on the Tizen operating system running on the Gear 2 compared to what it had to work with in Android on the Galaxy Gear.

As Steve Jobs said back in 2005 when discussing Apple’s move from PowerPC to Intel processors, computing was moving from performance improvements to a more nuanced performance per Watt improvements. Battery technology, in particular power density and improved battery formulations does not move at a particularly fast pace in comparison to say microprocessor design, solid state or disk storage and display design. This is the reason why Google Glass has a battery life that allows roughly 45 minutes of continuous usage.

You husband power in the product through taking a holistic approach to engineering power-saving in both the software and the hardware; it involves tight integration and control over both factors. Tizen gives Samsung more of this control than it currently enjoys with Android. This control could also help Samsung harden the security of phones for the enterprise, however Tizen isn’t unique in this regard and the defence industry has decided to go down the route of securing Android itself; a great example of this is Boeing’s Black Phone

Tizen and Google
As margins become tighter on handset manufacturers Google looks like it is likely to make more money from Android users than they will. It is the reason why both Apple and Xiaomi have a combined services and hardware sales model so that they gain from the lifetime of the consumer usage rather than just the device sale. Secondly Google is being seen as increasingly using its monopolistic power against handset manufacturers in tactics that look reminiscent of the relationship between PC manufacturers and Microsoft.

In order for Samsung to break from Google it would need to build or integrate various services; just a few years ago Samsung was considered to have the whip hand in its relationship with Google over the Android operating system and the purchase of Motorola was partly seen as a hedge against this power.

BusinessInsider suggested that Google’s sale of Motorola’s handset business to Lenovo could be read as a perception that Google feels it no longer needs that hedge and that Samsung couldn’t build services that would threaten Google. Samsung don’t seem to have achieved this so far, but that doesn’t mean that they couldn’t do it in the future.

Tizen is interesting, particularly Samsung’s mastery of power management, Samsung also possesses deep pockets, for instance it could buy Jolla outright and gain a better looking operating system whilst still retaining Tizen’s compatibility with Android applications. Tizen isn’t a mobile only operating system but could be extended into Samsung’s brown and white goods product ranges and the new product categories opening up around the ‘web of no web’ from wearables to smarter out-of-home and retail marketing.

More information
Apple And Samsung’s New Tizen Strategy – Business Insider
Why Google Is Not Scared Of Samsung Forking Android – Business Insider
Samsung Announces the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo, Both Run Tizen Instead of Android | Droid Life
Tizen-based Samsung Gear 2 ditches Android, adds music player (hands-on) | CNet
Samsung drops Android for Tizen in new Gear 2 smartwatches | The Verge
Hands-on with Samsung’s Tizen OS: An impressively capable Android clone | Ars Technica
Tizen signs up new allies, but still no real phone | Mobile World Congress – CNET Reviews
Tizen Association
Samsung finally folding Bada OS into Tizen | The Verge