Although Samsung is the king of the Android world and chief threat to Apple, it's not happy with the Android OS or Google and has wanted to get out from under Google's influence for some time. Its solution was the Tizen operating system, a Linux derivative that was supposed to be Samsung's ticket to freedom.
The problem is that in the smartphone world, unlike featurephones, apps are as important as, oh, being able to make phone calls. Ten years ago you just designed a handset and put your own homebrew OS, which was little more than a bunch of menu items. Now you need a full blown OS, and like PCs, a nifty OS is nothing without apps. Right, OS/2 faithful?
It's the lack of apps that's believed to be why Samsung is delaying the release of the Samsung Z, the first Tizen phone. In May, Samsung announced plans to launch the Samsung Z in the third quarter of this year starting in Russia and rolling out worldwide. Now, The Wall Street Journal reports that plan has been shelved indefinitely.
The reason? Samsung said it wanted time to "further enhance [the] Tizen ecosystem" before releasing it. Translation: it has no apps.
It doesn't help that Samsung canceled the appearance at a Tizen developer conference earlier this month in Russia. Think about that - Samsung is about to release a phone in Russia and it cancels an appearance at a developer conference for that platform in that country. Something is seriously wrong.
And it's not like Tizen is an immature product. The company just released an alpha version of version 2.3. It's been out there a while.
Samsung is undoubtedly facing a harsh reality about the natural order of things in technology. First, maybe two platforms rise to the top and that's all people support. On the computing side, it's the Windows platform. Many developers don't support the Mac because they can't afford it, while others say the market is still too small to warrant a full development staff. And commercial desktop Linux apps? Godot will arrive first.
On the mobile side, it's an Android and iOS world. This time Microsoft is at the bottom and looking up, with about a 3% market share for Windows Phone. BlackBerry is in even worse shape and it was the one-time king of the hill. Palm's webOS, despite all of its acclaim and regards, couldn't get app support either.
With Android and iOS so entrenched, is it any wonder Tizen is struggling as well? If Samsung wants an alternative to Google, perhaps it should put more support behind Windows Phone and let Microsoft do all the heavy lifting of OS development and developer support.
Oh right, Microsoft is now Samsung's competition in handsets. And Microsoft has 94.5% of the Windows Phone market, according to AdDuplex, while Samsung has 1.1%.
All of this makes for one big mess.