What it is: Tizen is Samsung’s attempt to create their own mobile operating system.
When Apple introduced iOS back in 2007, they helped usher in a new era of smartphones. Because iOS was one of the first operating systems to offer a touch screen interface, developers quickly gravitated towards creating apps for iOS.
Later as Android grew in popularity, developers tended to focus on both iOS and Android. Developers liked the fact that Android had the largest market share but they also liked the fact that iOS users tended to spend more money buying apps.
The growth of iOS and Android helped kill former smartphone leaders such as Blackberry OS, Windows Mobile, and Symbian. When rivals tried to offer their own touch screen, mobile operating system such as Windows Phone 7 from Microsoft, it suffered from appearing too late and not offering anything different.
Today, few developers focus entirely on creating Windows Phone apps and most developers create iOS and Android apps long before they even consider a Windows Phone app. Now that Microsoft has abandoned Windows Phone 8 in favor of Windows Mobile 10, app developers are even less likely to support anything besides iOS and Android.
Although Android holds the largest market share, iOS is far more profitable. That means Android manufacturers have to keep lowering their prices to complete against rivals. Yet no matter how low their price their products, a competitor always seems to price theirs a little lower.
This race to the bottom means that Android manufacturers have no incentive to support Android updates because they’d rather sell you another phone. Android manufacturers also have the additional problem of trying to make a profit essentially selling the same type of smartphone as their rivals.
That’s why Samsung has been trying with using their own operating system called Tizen and Huawei is toying with developing their own operating system as well. The theory is that if Samsung or Huawei have their own operating system, they can eliminate Google and earn the lion’s share of the profits while offering a product that only they can sell to others.
In theory owning your own operating system sounds great, but in practice, it doesn’t work. Microsoft worked hard to make Windows Phone a viable mobile operating system, bur failed. The biggest problem is getting developers to create apps for any operating system not named Android or iOS.
Samsung has made Tizen open source so anyone can use it, but why would a Samsung rival use a Samsung operating system if the bulk of the profits (through services) goes to Samsung? Why would a Huawei rival use a Huawei operating system for the same reason?
The fact is that most smartphone companies are caught in a bind. If they use Android, they become just one of many commodity dealers who make little or no money selling Android devices and who send the bulk of Android income to Google.
If these companies develop their own operating system, it will lack apps that people are used to and it will likely offer no huge advantage over Android or iOS so there will be no reason for people to use them.
If you had a choice between a Tizen smartphone, and Android smartphone, or an iPhone, chances are good you’d choose either an Android phone or an iPhone because of the vast support both operating systems offer. You probably wouldn’t choose a Tizen phone for the same reason you wouldn’t choose a Windows Phone 8 phone due to the lack of apps.
So creating their own mobile operating system is simply a waste of time. Samsung sells the majority of Android devices so if they pull out of the Android market, another Android manufacturer can quickly step in and fill the void.
If Samsung sells Tizen smartphones, it will lack apps that will take years (if ever) to develop. Nobody wants to wait for apps when they can get the apps they need on Android or iOS, and nobody wants Tizen just because it benefits Samsung with no benefits to the consumer.
Samsung, Huawei, and other Android manufacturers have two losing choices. One, they can support Android and compete against dozens of other Android manufacturers while helping Google make money (while they lose money). Two, the can create their own operating system and then wonder why nobody wants it because it lacks apps and offers few compelling advantages over Android or iOS.
Anyone remember Amazon’s Fire Phone that ran Amazon’s custom version of Android? If flopped partly because it didn’t offer enough apps or a compelling advantage over the regular version of Android.
Anyone remember FirefoxOS, another mobile operating system that attempted to define the smartphone and tablet market. It too failed because it offered no compelling advantage over Android or iOS but plenty of disadvantages.
The time for another mobile operating system has likely passed, much like the time for another desktop operating system has long been over.
Expect companies like Samsung to continue selling Android devices in hopes of making a little money while they also try to market their own operating system like Tizen. Companies like Samsung hope that eventually Tizen will catch on and rival Android and iOS, which is like IBM hoping OS/2 will catch on and rival Windows and Linux.
It’s not going to happen. Tizen and other mobile operating systems are doomed to fail unless they offer something radically new. Until that happens, the world will be content with Android and iOS, just like they were content with BlackberryOS and Windows Mobile, until something better came along.