Samsung made itself the brand to beat in the crowded smartphone space by backing Google’s Android software –- 96 percent of the South Korean company’s shipments ran on the platform. Now, it’s planning a high-end smartphone powered by Intel-backed open-source platform Tizen.
The new phone, out as soon as August, is good news for those geeks and independent-minded consumers of the tech zone who are crying out for open-source gadgets. Maybe less so for Apple and Google, who face another challenger in the battle to dominate the platform for global mobile communications.
But Samsung had best beware. Growing competition from Samsung as a maker of high-end smartphones has already turned Apple from its most-valuable customer to an increasingly bitter rival. Does Google’s move into handsets after last year’s acquisition of Motorola put the writing on the wall for that relationship too?
Samsung’s efforts to lessen its reliance on Android by designing its own software Bada – “the sea” in Korean – haven’t yet produced a credible alternative. Nor have phones powered by Microsoft’s OS. Enter Tizen.
“This is just sort of a safety net,” said Doh Hyun Woo, an analyst for Seoul-based Mirae Asset Securities. “But if Google dominates the market just like Microsoft did in the PC market with more than 90 percent share, it may prove the total opposite,” with Google possibly holding this over Samsung’s head.
The big question for Samsung and Google – and Apple, too – is whether consumers learn to live with multiple operating systems, or whether one comes to dominate and the rest are left to wither (who remembers Betamax?).
Watch this space for developing open-source news.