Samsung Targets Developing Market with First Tizen Phone
Faced with dwindling dominance and increased competition from fast-growing phone-makers in China, Samsung is pinning its hopes on the potentially massive smartphone market in India, the world's second most populous country. That's why the South Korean company is releasing the Samsung Z1, a low-cost smartphone powered not by Android but by the Linux-based Tizen operating system.
The 5,700-rupee (around $92) Samsung Z1 became available in India on Wednesday. That price point directly targets India's large population of mobile phone users who have yet to move up to a smartphone. Only around 10 percent of Indian mobile customers have a smartphone, according to recent figures from the analyst firm IDC.
While it doesn't have nearly as large an app ecosystem as Android or iOS, Tizen offers one major advantage over its bigger, more established rivals: Its small processing power and memory footprint. That makes it a logical choice for an entry-level smartphone aimed at an Indian market hungry for mobile entertainment.
Tizen Devices in the Works
"The smartphone market in India is rapidly evolving, with many consumers using their device as their screen of choice for content including videos, television programs and video games, as well as a range of apps," said Hyun Chil Hong, president and CEO of Samsung India Electronics. "We have customized the Samsung Z1 to meet these unique, entertainment-focused needs of local Indian consumers for a personal and reliable mobile experience."
The Z1's Tizen platform enables the phone to deliver faster boot times and quicker loading of Web pages with lower data usage, according to Samsung. The phone also comes with a long-lasting battery and an "Ultra Power Saving Mode" that maintains connections even at low charge levels.
While most of Samsung's devices have been powered by Google's Android operating system, the South Korean company has been working to advance adoption of the Tizen OS for some time. It reportedly planned to roll out a Tizen-powered smartphone in early 2014, but those plans didn't pan out.
'Optimal for IoT'
An open-source project of the Linux Foundation with major support from Samsung and Intel, Tizen could offer a way for Samsung to set itself apart in a smartphone market dominated by Android, iOS and Windows. Samsung is also looking to the OS as a foundation for its Internet of Things ambitions.
"Because it is lightweight, Tizen is optimal for use across a wide spectrum of smart connected devices in the IoT space," Samsung spokesman Mingi Hyun said Wednesday in a blog post on the company's Web site. "While devices with high demand for computing power, such as smartphones and TVs, are part of the IoT, so are devices that require relatively less computing power, such as wearables, vacuum cleaners and washing machines, which need an operating system like Tizen that is lightweight enough to run the devices without burning through processing power, memory and overall device performance."
Hyun noted that Samsung plans to follow up its release of the Z1 with "a flood of devices" running Tizen this year. However, the success of Tizen -- and perhaps of Samsung as well -- will depend upon the development of a large-enough ecosystem to drive adoption of such devices. That's one reason behind Samsung President and CEO Boo-Keun Yoon's pledge last week to invest more than $100 million this year in support of the developer community and the Internet of Things.