After months of teasing and constant harping on the state of its Tizen initiative, Samsung this week confirmed what many of the more astute observers of the platform figured out early on, when an executive for the company revealed that it was unlikely that any Tizen-powered devices would be officially released in the US, citing the state of the market and its relatively mature state in regards to smartphone platform saturation compared to other countries around the world. Tizen partner NTT DoCoMo also confirmed separately that the first Tizen-powered devices would see an official launch in March, presumably in Japan, with the actual devices being revealed next month during Mobile World Congress. The quote below is from Samsung Director of US Marketing for Mobile Ryan Bidan speaking to FierceWireless:
“We don’t feel the U.S. is a great test market for those kinds of products, the U.S. market is pretty mature. Bringing a new entrant here that doesn’t meet a certain performance bar would be a challenge. Recognizing that, we don’t want to set ourselves up for failure.”
As Tizen is the merging of MeeGo with the carrier-backed LiMo initiative that never got off the ground other than having a standards group that at one time included Verizon Wireless, Samsung’s comments come at a time when the conglomerate is relying heavily on sales of Android phones in the US for the bulk of its local revenue and profit while backing an alternative that is being interpreted as yet another hedge against Google’s recent moves to close certain aspects of Android from the open source community and Google itself, which also explains why Samsung insists on duplicating certain common Google services on its phones for its TouchWiz overlay while constantly packing features into each new device that go unused or are underused.
To release a brand new platform in the US wouldn’t make sense without necessary assurances for carrier support, but this also means that like its old Bada platform, it doesn’t stand much of a chance without a US launch since Bada was also abandoned after less than 24 months of launching in Eastern Europe and Russia with one device in 2010, prior to Android coming into its own as a platform that year and ultimately being discontinued in favor of Tizen last year.
However, with Samsung spending years developing Tizen looking for an alternative that it can use without having to rely on Android, it may need to justify all of the development time and expense now instead of waiting for an opening that is rapidly closing with the rise of inexpensive Android smartphones and Google’s KitKat being a boon for entry-level smartphone manufacturers, owing to its drastically lowered hardware requirements. Tizen faces an uphill battle and next month’s expected debut at Mobile World Congress is going to be an important one for the platform and for Samsung.