The rumors of Samsung releasing a Tizen-based phone appear to finally coming to fruition. Tizen, the open-source mobile operating system that has support not just from Samsung, but also from DoCoMo, Vodafone and others, will finally see a handset released in 2013.
The report came on Monday from Japan’s Daily Yomiuri, which cited sources from Japanese operator DoCoMo who claim that the carrier is working with Samsung and other companies to release a phone based on Tizen — a Linux-based OS that is the successor to Intel and Nokia’s Meego platform.
Earlier this year, there were rumors that Samsung was even looking into merging Tizen with its own bada platform. The Tizen project is hosted by the Linux Foundation.
A release date for a Tizen-based phone is unclear. The only thing the report said is that the device would release sometime in 2013.
Samsung will probably begin selling the smartphones next year and they are likely to be released in Japan and other countries at around the same time, according to sources.
The world was certainly surprised when Samsung’s interest in Tizen became known, because it is obviously Android that has helped the Korean giant become the world’s biggest cell phone manufacturer.
The company still sells feature phones, though, and handsets with the aforementioned bada home-built smartphone platform. Those add still more handset sales to Samsung’s Android haul.
It’s possible that Samsung’s decision to back Tizen was at least partially motivated by Google’s acquisition of Motorola, as Android OEMs — while backing the deal, as it was mostly made for patent reasons — had some concern over possible advantages that Motorola might see in the Android realm.
Tizen is seen as more open than Google’s Android, which despite its claims of openness, has caused some partners pain with certain restrictions. One example came earlier in 2012, when Google was said to have pressured its partner Acer into cancelling a smartphone launch in China because it breached Android regulations.
At the time, Google’s Andy Rubin said that the release of the CloudMobile A800 woould “weaken the [Android] ecosystem” since the device sported a competing Linux-based platform, Aliyun. While not specifically noted as a forked version of Android, there were enough details in the spec that Google called it a “non-compatible version of Android.”
Google said that Acer was — essentially — risking its position as an Android partner if the A800 went to market. Google’s statement was:
Compatibility is at the heart of the Android ecosystem and ensures a consistent experience for developers, manufacturers and consumers. Non-compatible versions of Android, like Aliyun, weaken the ecosystem. All members of the Open Handset Alliance have committed to building one Android platform and to not ship non-compatible Android devices. This does not however, keep OHA members from participating in competing ecosystems.
While Android remains free for anyone to use as they would like, only Android compatible devices benefit from the full Android ecosystem. By joining the Open Handset Alliance, each member contributes to and builds one Android platform — not a bunch of incompatible versions.
Notably, Aliyun was able to run Android apps using a virtual machine.
Docomo is backing Tizen primarily, some believe, because it is the sole Japanese carrier to be sans the iPhone. The Daily Yomiuri said that Docomo hopes that Tizen will help reverse its subscriber losses. Despite the lack of an iPhone, Docomo is the predominant carrier in Japan.