What is Samsung Electronics’s greatest weakness when competing with Apple? Many IT industry experts say that it is that Samsung doesn’t have its own operating system (OS), while Apple does. Therefore, Samsung Electronics under the new leadership of Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is putting forth efforts to spread its own smartphone OS, Tizen. This is because the top management of Samsung Electronics judged that it should secure its own OS that can work with the IoT and an ecosystem for the OS to secure new future growth engines and maintain its position in the electronics industry.
Samsung Electronics announced a Tizen-based new smartphone called the “Samsung Z3” in India on Oct. 14 (local time). The Z3 is the second smartphone loaded with Tizen OS. The new product will hit the shelves in India on Oct. 21. The Z3 is armed with a 5.0 inch superAMOLED display, an 8 megapixel camera on the back, and a 5 megapixel camera on the front.
The camera features the Wide Selfie’ function which can produce group selfies since it can cover up to 120 degrees. Its Mix Radio service streams 35 million Indian songs in 13 genres free of charge. The product is priced at 8490 rupees (US$131).
Samsung Electronics highlighted the expansion of the Tizen Ecosystem. Z3 is the second Tizen-powered smartphone of Samsung after the Z1, which was launched early this year. Moreover, the Gear S2, Samsung’s new smart watch, runs on Tizen OS. These are indicative of Samsung’s efforts to promote Tizen.
Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, is also paying special attention to the OS. Vice Chairman Lee himself used the phone to check its qualities and functions before its launch. He even checked call quality by making calls to employees. This shows that Lee is bent on securing Samsung’s own smartphone OS. The success of Tizen-based devices has encouraged Samsung about building the Tizen ecosystem.
But Tizen has been struggling between Android and iOS, two absolute powers in the OS world. The OS market is a very highly walled garden. Windows Mobile and Firefox made paltry progress, even though a huge number of software developers were mobilized for their development. Android and iOS are so powerful that they have not allowed any newcomers to their playground.
According to IDC, a market survey organization, Google’s Android takes up 81.5 percent of the global mobile OS market, while Apple’s iOS takes up 14.8 percent. In an Aug. 28 report on Koreans’ Internet use in the first half of this year, Android and iOS accounted for 84.11 percent and iOS 15.87 percent, each.
To Samsung Electronics, Android and iOS are the teams to beat. Samsung Electronics has to have its own smartphone OS to rake in more profits from its smartphone business. Samsung Electronics tops the world smartphone sales standings at number one. But the company doesn’t have its own OS, so has to hinge entirely on Android.
No one knows whether or not Samsung Electronics will partner with Google forever. “If necessary, we may part ways with Samsung Electronics,” said a vice president of Google about Tizen in the Mobile World Congress held in Spain in March, showing his displeasure with it.
Samsung Electronics also needs to prepare for the upcoming IoT era. Earlier this year, the electronics giant declared that it will link all of its electronics products, including smart TVs, through IoT within five years. Samsung Electronics is planning to load all of them with Tizen. This means the company will turn the tide in the IoT market. As Google is eyeing the IoT market, an independent OS is a pressing need for Samsung.
Samsung Electronics held a Tizen developer conference in China from Sept. 17 to 18 for the first time. The event debuted Tizen Platform 3.0, with expanded compatibility that can work with IoT devices. “Tizen 3.0 is designed to make mobile devices, wearable devices, TVs, and even home electronics products compatible with the IoT,” a Samsung Electronics spokesperson explained during the event.