Remember Meego? Poor ol’ Meego has gone through a lot of transitions, from the original Maemo, to being merged with Intel’s Moblin, to now being merged once again with Samsung’s own OS, Bada, which will be made open source when it will be merged with Meego, and form Tizen. All Bada applications will work in Tizen, and if developers know how to make Bada apps, they should be able to make Tizen apps, too.
But why does Samsung want to support yet another OS? Or better yet, what are they trying to achieve by pushing Bada/Tizen even harder into the market? Samsun has at least several main reasons why it wants to do this.
Samsung wants more independence, first of all. While they have plenty of independence with Android, it’s not as much as they would like for a company of their size, which is set to overtake Nokia in all phone sales in 2012, and become world’s largest phone manufacturer (they are already smartphone king). Clearly, a company like Samsung doesn’t think any 3rd party should limit them too much.
But Android has proven extremely successful for them, so they will not give up on it anytime soon, if ever. However, they still want a strong alternative to Android. Google will have to restrict Android even more if it wants to provide a pretty unified experience to the Android users, and I’m guessing Samsung doesn’t like this too much, but there isn’t all that much they can do about it.
Bada has been reasonably successful for them, with a marketshare twice as big as all the WP7 phones put together from other manufacturers as well. But it’s still pretty small at around 4% globally. Plus, because of this they have to give WP7 a try and see how it goes, too. However, this pushes them even more towards being even more restricted by a 3rd party, which this time is Microsoft.
WP7 is far more restrictive than Android, in a sense that it allows them to do almost no customization whatsoever of the OS, and perhaps worse, it allows them to do almost no customization of the hardware components. This might not hurt them too much in the beginning when WP7’s market share is too small, and there aren’t too many WP7 competitors, but it would mean complete commodization under a bigger market share.
So here we are, with Samsung trying one last push to be successful with their own OS, this time Tizen. Bada showed what I’ve been thinking since the very beginning. No “single-company proprietary OS” would’ve been successful against Apple. If you wanted to beat Apple and the iPhone, you just had to use a multi-company OS – an OS being supported and used by multiple manufacturers. Many people forget that it was hard even for Android to gain over iPhone in the beginning. A single-company OS has absolutely no chance. And it’s once again being proven by RIM and their QNX OS. That’s if we don’t even count the failures of both Palm and HP, who also tried to beat Apple with an OS that only they owned.
So Bada is a single-company proprietary OS, but Tizen will try to follow Android’s business model, of being open source, and also a multi-company OS. You would think this would hurt Android. That’s likely, but it really depends on the implementation and functionally of the OS. I have serious doubts that it can match Android in functionality in the near future. None of the mobile OS have been able to since Froyo. Android also has the huge app ecosystem, so it will be a big uphill battle there, too, which guarantees Android a lead of at least a few years, and given where Android is right now, it most likely means that lead will be permanent (read: 10-15 years until the next huge market disruption).
But what about Tizen vs WP7? I think it’s much more likely to become the #3 platform before WP7 even has a chance to pass 5% in the market. LG will definitely use it, too. They were going to use Meego as well, and we also learned a while ago that the South Korean Government wants both Samsung and LG to work on an open source OS. Well this is it. It’s Tizen. Sony will most likely use it, too, since they’ve been the only major manufacturer who hasn’t used anything but Android. That’s because they don’t like WP7 (neither does LG after their initial failure with it), and they will certainly welcome Tizen. Being open source, means other Asian companies like Huawei and ZTE or other no-name ones might give it a try, too.
Android will most likely stay at around a 50% market share globally, with iOS around 20% globally, and most of the rest 30% being taken by Tizen. Of course, these are just strategic assumptions. It still remains to be seen if Tizen will be any good, but Samsung has a pretty good software team, and my guess is this is why they’ve hired the CyanogenMod found, too. Hopefully, we get to see Tizen by the end of the year, because they still need to hurry if they want to become the #3 platform.
All they need to do is make it impressive, intuitive, add even more apps to the already existent Bada apps, and convince as many companies as possible to use it. It won’t be easy, but being open source, customizable and free will be huge advantages over WP7.