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Samsung's first Tizen phone facing cold reception in India

Reuters reports that Samsung's new Z1 Tizen smartphone is receiving a very tepid reception in India, due to its sub par specs and strong competition from Android.

Published onJanuary 22, 2015

The Samsung Z1 would fit in with literally any of the company’s budget Android devices yet is actually running Tizen.

India is proving to be a more difficult stomping ground for fledgling OS ventures than many have assumed. The country has an enormous population yet relatively few who can afford to buy the latest and greatest products from the likes of Samsung or Apple. Last year, Google attempted to get its Android One program off the ground in India yet sales have been anything but brisk so far. It looks like the latest victim to a cold reception is none other than Samsung, with its continuously delayed Tizen OS.

Samsung recently launched the Tizen-powered Z1 in India, though Reuters is reporting that it’s hardly making a dent in a country where no fewer than 283 different brands of smartphones are available. The phone costs 5700 Rupees (about $92) and even on eBay it can be had for only about a $30 premium from the few sellers offering it. This is a far cry from the likes of devices such as the Galaxy S5, Galaxy Note 4, or even Galaxy Note Edge, which all had incredibly high markups from opportunistic eBay sellers. Given the extremely low price, it might seem surprising that the device hasn’t exactly hit it off. But when looking at the specs, things become a bit clearer:

One Indian shopper apparently likened the device to a phone from 2010, and in truth he’s not stretching the truth. The phone pictured above doesn’t have LTE, doesn’t have a large AMOLED screen (it’s PLS no less), comes with a dual-core CPU, has 1GB of RAM, a 3 megapixel rear camera, and just 4GB of internal storage. Compare this with say, the Micromax Canvas A1 (Android One) phone that has a 4.5 inch IPS screen, a Quad-Core CPU, 5 megapixel rear camera and 2 megapixel front camera, and runs KitKat.

A local analyst cited by Reuters explains why Samsung may have a dud on its hands, despite the bargain bin price: “”It’s not always about the cheapest, customers are looking for specs … There are already a plethora of devices running on Android that Indian customers can choose from.”

The problem is only worsened by the fact that as a brand-new commercial OS, Tizen has an extremely limited app selection available for download, whereas Android One phones have more than a million programs to choose from. This is perhaps not unlike the situation facing the Firefox OS platform. One has to wonder just why Samsung felt the need to cancel the launch of its original Z phone last year in Russia, for at least it had relatively nice specs on-par with a mid-range modern Android phone:

While it’s far too early to draw a broad conclusion as to the success or failure of Tizen, at least based on the first week of release, the criticism would seem to suggest it’s not quite where it needs to be yet. Although Samsung has Tizen running on other types of devices – the most prominent being its smart TVs and its Gear line of wearables – it is the phone segment where that truly matters if the Korean company ever hopes to distance itself from Google and the Android platform.

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