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Tizen: Major threat or minor concern?

By Evan Wade / April 9, 2013

Tizen, a spiritual successor to the failed MeeGo project, has raised plenty of questions since Samsung and Intel announced the mobile OS in September 2011. Though developed as an open-source platform for a number of devices like netbooks and smart TVs, Samsung’s plans for the smartphone and tablet end of things have been the source of much speculation, and with good reason: depending on who you ask, the platform represents anything from a contingency plan for the hardware giant to, if they drop Android altogether, a major shakeup of the mobile industry.

An X-factor for developers

Why should you care? While it’s unclear whether the market can support yet another platform — and whether the thought of tweaking code for another set of standards has you licking your chops or pulling out your hair — it’s clear that Samsung and Intel are serious about their venture.

Good connections

The first smartphone running the OS, due out in the third quarter of 2013, will have “thousands of apps,” according to the hardware giant. Intel’s relative lack of success in the mobile arena will undoubtedly result in some eye-opening specs. The number of industry connections between the two should open some doors inaccessible to other newbies, as well. In short: if any platform can carve a niche for itself in an already crowded space, it’s this one.

Free to customize

Though early looks at Tizen have been mostly uninspiring, with reviewers noting the platform’s unfinished feel and uninspiring GUI, the platform does promise a few developer-friendly tweaks when the floodgates open. If shoehorning various versions of your apps to a platform’s standards sounds like your idea of torture, you may be pleased to hear Samsung’s relatively lax rules make it easier for developers (and carriers) to change the OS and the apps behind it to their liking.

“The carriers,” one CNet article notes, “see Tizen as a way to prominently place their own services and features on smartphones that ensure they maintain a strong relationship with the subscriber.”

Scalable resolution

Another benefit for developers comes by way of the platform’s scalable screen resolution. This should be particularly appealing to app developers with multiple devices in mind. Instead of making new versions of an application for each and every piece of hardware on the market, changing the resolution for your software is as easy as it would be on, say, a PC — and we’re sure you wouldn’t complain about a little less busywork.

Time will tell

All of these points could be moot, depending on Samsung and Intel’s plans for their new platform. Though both developers appear ready for prime time, MeeGo looked pretty promising at one point, too. If the reported spats between Google and Samsung come to nothing, and Samsung keeps up with its current line of Android devices, it’s hard to say whether releasing new devices with a whole new OS makes the best business sense. And, of course, the consumers have the final say: with three major choices in front of them already, it could be that there’s no room for a fourth, even one with parents as influential as Tizen’s.