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The Samsung Z is dead: Is Tizen next?

Aug 18, 20142 mins

Samsung cancels high-end phone and settles for low-end devices.

Just days after postponing the launch of its high-end Tizen phone, Samsung has scuttled the device all together, which begs the question of how long the Tizen OS itself has.

 Tizen is Samsung’s Linux-based OS for smartphones. Samsung has made no secret of its desire to get out from under Google’s thumb and has spent the last two years working on Tizen. But as it was preparing to launch the Samsung Z, a high-end phone running Tizen, in Russia, Samsung postponed the launch, saying it wanted to “enhance the Tizen ecosystem.”

 I interpreted that to mean it had no apps. App developers can only support so many platforms. Android and iOS are the givens. After that? Only if the developer has the finances and wherewithal to support a third platform. That’s why iOS and Android have over a million apps and Windows Phone has 300,000.

 The latest news from Tizen Experts (yes, there is a fan site for this OS) is that the Samsung Z has been totally shelved, and Samsung will go ahead with a launch of lower-end devices.

 Now why would they do this? Well, it’s easier to compete with low-end Chinese handset makers like Xiaomi, but also, users of high-end phones tend to use them for everything but making phone calls. They are the most sophisticated and advanced users, and they will demand apps. The two cheaper Tizen phones will sell in markets where people will be happy with just a phone.

 By and large, low-end phone users aren’t as invested in apps as just the basics, phone calls and texting. The low-end smartphone market has effectively killed off the feature phone, aka flip phone market. That market has continued to shrivel as people use low-end smartphones in place of flip phones. So if Samsung wants to go into China, India and emerging markets, those would be the best phones.

One of the signs of trouble was that Samsung cancelled a Tizen developer conference in Russia just weeks before the Russian launch of the Samsung Z. There are two upcoming shows, the Tizen Developer Summit Shanghai in October and the Samsung Developers Conference in November in San Francisco. Those shows will be a major indicator of whether or not this OS has legs.


Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.