Thanks to Android, Samsung is at the top of the mobile industry, controlling vast swaths of the global market and raking in billions in profits every quarter. But lucrative as it may be, the dependence on Android is worrying Samsung’s leaders, who’ve long ago realized that controlling software, not just hardware, is crucial for the future of the Korean giant.

Enter Tizen, the Linux-based operating system developed by a consortium of companies led by Intel, and above all, Samsung. The development of Tizen, which may eventually power everything from smartwatches to automobiles, has been sluggish, but now the OS is finally approaching commercial debut.

As reported by the Korea Herald, Samsung announced that the first device running Tizen is already out on the market. Rather than the smartphone that everyone expected, the device is actually a smart camera called NX300M, which launched in South Korea in early October. Choi Jong-deok, Samsung’s vice president for software, confirmed the news during the first Tizen Developers Summit, held this week in Seoul.

The first Tizen smartphone will launch in the first months of 2014

The first Tizen smartphone will launch in the first months of 2014, sources told Korea Herald. Japanese carrier NTT Docomo, a supporter of Tizen, will be among the first operators to carry a Tizen phone. Docomo has been pushing for a release in late 2013, but that didn’t pan out, and now the most plausible launch window is February-March 2014. That means there’s a good chance we’ll see the first Tizen smartphone at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, at the end of February.

To get Tizen off the ground, Samsung also plans to release smart TVs powered by the new OS soon after the debut of the first-gen Tizen smartphones. The ultimate goal is to create a widespread platform that can compete with Android for the attention of customers and developers.

Samsung’s Choi also revealed the company’s plans for Tizen 3.0, due towards the end of next year. The upcoming OS version will support 64-bit processors from Intel and ARM, will be able to use more memory, and will feature a 3D UI framework, among other improvements.

Despite rumors that Tizen is dead or at least dead in the water, the potential Android competitor seems to be very much alive. Will it pose a serious threat to Android? It’s hard to say, but if any industry player can get a brand new operating system of the ground, it’s Samsung. The Korean conglomerate has the infrastructure, sales channels, financial and technological resources to make a winner out of Tizen.

For sure, Android will not go away, because Samsung’s fortunes are too closely tied to Google’s OS, but that’s what Tizen is for: loosening the ties that keep Samsung in Google’s sphere of influence. If and when those ties become weak enough, anything becomes possible.



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