Shortly after a Samsung exec confirmed that Tizen would not see an official US release due to the current market dominance of Android and iOS last week, more bad news has been confirmed for the currently stillborn mobile operating system, as the originally planned launch of Tizen by NTT DoCoMo has been halted by the company with no explanation for the sudden change in plans.
NTT DoCoMo became Tizen’s most visible backer after merging its LiMo platform with Samsung and Intel’s Tizen in 2012, with initial plans to launch devices during 2013, which did not come to pass. The shelved launch plans involved Samsung and DoCoMo jointly presenting hardware and Tizen-powered carrier services next month at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, though DoCoMo now claims that the Japanese market cannot support three discrete mobile operating systems, echoing the Samsung exec’s previous sentiments regarding the US market and Tizen.
The commercial launch for Tizen was set for March, with a massive marketing budget and up to three devices planned for release, also shelved indefinitely.While Samsung and the Tizen Association have yet to officially respond to DoCoMo’s sudden change in plans, a contributing factor in the shift away from the platform is the recent holiday season launch of Apple’s iPhone on DoCoMo.
The carrier (which could be compared to Verizon Wireless in the US in terms of size) with significant government backing was famous for being a holdout and against the iPhone, since it initially found Apple’s terms untenable and disliked the inability to bundle its products and services at the hardware level. Initially, this strategy worked for DoCoMo, as it focused on selling heavily customized Android devices beginning in 2010 while keeping its heavily customized Japanese phone lineup intact until recently.
However, as Apple reached deals with the other Japanese carriers, first with SoftBank and later on with KDDI AU, those carriers experienced massive growth thanks to the increasing popularity of the iPhone and hitting critical mass in Japan by 2012, at the expense of DoCoMo and contributing to the massive rise of mobile gaming and platforms such as DeNa’s mobage, other hits such as Puzzle & Dragons, along with the meteoric rise of messaging app LINE, now a staple of mobile messaging in Asia.
Now with NTT DoCoMo experiencing its own customer surge thanks to holiday iPhone sales estimated at 279,000 units and registering its first signs of positive growth in two years, releasing Tizen in March would have taken away from the momentum of the iPhone and put them in an awkward situation, as DoCoMo intended Tizen as a test run for the market, never taking into account that it would ever carry the iPhone.
Now Samsung and the Tizen Association are without a carrier partner for the currently stillborn platform, and it looks like it will join other such platforms in the pages of history, never to be seen again.