A Samsung executive has told Reuters the company will release its first Tizen-powered smartphone before the beginning of July, putting an end to the delays which have plagued the brand new mobile operating system. The device is expected to feature a flagship-style spec sheet, and could be followed by a mid-range smartphone to help increase market share.
The news comes from Samsung’s Vice President of Product Strategy, Yoon Han-kil, who also stated that hardware running Google’s Android software would remain its “main business,” while Tizen devices would be for bringing in revenue based on app sales and services. Samsung has also changed its strategy regarding Tizen. Initially planned to introduce Samsung hardware into countries where the manufacturer wasn’t especially popular, it has now decided to launch them in markets where it’s an established and popular choice.
This comes soon after the Japanese network DoCoMo cancelled a Tizen phone launch. Japan is a weak market for Samsung, with analysts showing a steadily declining market share at the end of 2013. The switch to pushing Tizen in places where Samsung does well, could mean the U.S. and the UK will get a taste of Tizen later this year. Yoon estimates Tizen will need to represent 15 percent of Samsung’s total smartphone shipments if it’s to be a success for the company.
Samsung has already launched Tizen, just not on a smartphone. Instead, it shunned Android in favor of its own OS on the new Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches, which were launched alongside the Galaxy S5 during Mobile World Congress. Interestingly, Yoon says Samsung plans to make its future Tizen-powered smartwatches compatible with all Android phones, not just its own, potentially increasing awareness and challenging Google’s new Android Wear software.
An exact launch date hasn’t been provided, with the Samsung executive saying only that it’ll occur somewhere between now and the end of June. At the end of January, a leak showed a Tizen device named the Z9000 Zeq, which looked very similar to Samsung’s Galaxy S4 Android phone, but with a smaller, lower resolution display. It’s not clear whether this will be one of the launch phones.
Is Tizen finally going to get its chance to shine on the international smartphone stage? We’ll find out very soon, but the delays make us wary of getting our hopes up too much.