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Tizen OS to Power All Samsung Smart TVs in 2015

Having failed to make a dent in the smartphone OS sector, Samsung is taking its Tizen operating system into the living room.

Iain Morris

January 2, 2015

4 Min Read
Tizen OS to Power All Samsung Smart TVs in 2015

Trumpeted as the operating system that would end the duopoly of Apple's iOS and Google's Android in the smartphone sector, Samsung's Tizen platform has barely made a ripple since it was unveiled at the Mobile World Congress in 2013.

But the South Korean technology giant still believes Tizen can become a titan in the market for connected devices, revealing ahead of the upcoming CES show in Las Vegas that all the smart TVs it produces this year will use the technology. (See Samsung Unveils Tizen Smart TV Strategy.)

The company appears to hope that by taking advantage of its dominance in the TV market, it can fuel more widespread interest in Tizen.

Pitching its TVs as the "control center of any smart home," Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) has revealed that Tizen-equipped TVs will be able to synchronize and share content with other devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Thanks to a partnership between Samsung and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE), smart TV customers in North America will be able to use PlayStation Now, a cloud-streaming game service, without needing one of the Japanese company's PlayStation consoles.

Customers watching their smart TVs will also be able to switch the content to their mobile devices without any interruption, and view sporting events while checking statistics about teams and players on the same screen.

It seems the ultimate plan, though, is to make Tizen the operating system glue that binds together a more diverse array of smart home and other connected products.

"Building our smart platform around Tizen is a groundbreaking step towards a much more intelligent and integrated system," said Won Jin Lee, the executive vice president of Samsung's visual display business, in a company statement. "Tizen not only enriches the entertainment experience for our customers today, but unlocks great potential for the future in home entertainment."

Designed as an open-source platform, Tizen is backed by a number of high-profile technology players, including US chipmaker Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC), Japanese telecoms incumbent NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) and UK-headquartered mobile operator Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD).

Since grabbing headlines at the 2013 Mobile World Congress, however, Tizen has largely failed to lure developers away from iOS and Android. (See 5 Challengers to Apple & Android.)

Although Samsung has developed a Tizen tablet, and is using the operating system in its Gear 2 smart watch and NX300M smart camera, it has yet to begin selling a smartphone based on the standard. (See Samsung Delays Tizen Smartphone Launch.)

In June 2014, the company announced that a Tizen-enabled Samsung Z smartphone would go on sale in Russia in the third quarter, but it scrapped those launch plans just a few weeks later without explaining the move or indicating when the device might finally appear.

In the meantime, Samsung has continued to release consumer products that use the Android operating system.

Although manufacturers have tweaked and modified Android to suit their own ends, Samsung looks increasingly worried about its heavy dependence on the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) technology amid growing interest in the smart home and much broader Internet of Things (IoT).

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Keen to play a pivotal role in that market, the South Korean company is conscious of the need to develop strong capabilities in both hardware and software if it is to become a major force in the IoT ecosystem.

Growth in that area could also help to offset the sales decline that Samsung has recently suffered in more traditional markets.

While Samsung still sells more TVs than any other manufacturer, it faces tough competition from players in China and Japan. Operating profit at Samsung Electronics fell by 86% in the third quarter of 2014, compared with the same period in 2013, because of falling prices. (See Pressure Grows on Samsung in Q3.)

The company has also fared badly compared with its chief technology rivals: While it reported a 20% drop in overall revenues, to Korean Won 47.45 trillion (US$42.9 billion), and a 49% fall in net profit, to KRW 4.22 trillion ($3.8 billion), in the three months ending September 2014, Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) reported a 12% year-on-year increase in revenues to $42.1 billion, while its net income was up by 13%, to $8.47 billion.

Google, meanwhile, flagged a 20% increase in revenues, to $16.52 billion, during the same period, although its net income shrank by 5%, to $2.81 billion.

— Iain Morris, news editor, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Iain Morris

International Editor, Light Reading

Iain Morris joined Light Reading as News Editor at the start of 2015 -- and we mean, right at the start. His friends and family were still singing Auld Lang Syne as Iain started sourcing New Year's Eve UK mobile network congestion statistics. Prior to boosting Light Reading's UK-based editorial team numbers (he is based in London, south of the river), Iain was a successful freelance writer and editor who had been covering the telecoms sector for the past 15 years. His work has appeared in publications including The Economist (classy!) and The Observer, besides a variety of trade and business journals. He was previously the lead telecoms analyst for the Economist Intelligence Unit, and before that worked as a features editor at Telecommunications magazine. Iain started out in telecoms as an editor at consulting and market-research company Analysys (now Analysys Mason).

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