You may have heard of the MeeGo OS before. It was a combination of Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Mobilin platforms. The OS is already available on plenty of low-cost netbooks and Nokia was all set to adopt it in a big way for their smartphones. They even announced their first Meego smartphone, the Nokia N9. But then, they had a change of heart and decided to join Microsoft instead in making Windows Phone handsets. With one of the two major proponents of the OS having abandoned the project, it seemed MeeGo’s fate was sealed once and for all.
But Intel wasn’t going to let all its efforts go to waste, so it decided to hunt for a new partner and found one in the form of Samsung, who was more than willing to combine forces with Intel. And thus Tizen was born.
Tizen is not much different from MeeGo. They are both based on Linux Mobile (Moblin) and are completely open source. And just as MeeGo, Tizen will be targeting a wide range of devices, including smartphone, tablets, netbooks, Smart TVs and in-vehicle infotainment.
But Samsung will not be the only one aiding the development of Tizen. It is sponsored by Linux Foundation and LiMo Foundation, which include companies like Panasonic Mobile, NTT DoCoMo, SK Telecom, Telefonica, ACCESS, NEC Casio and Vodafone.
Tizen applications will be based on HTML5, however, and will be backward compatible with existing MeeGo applications. Intel will be distributing the applications for Tizen through their AppUp Center.
For Samsung, this means having another platform in their already large portfolio, which consists of Android, Windows Phone 7 and their own Bada OS, not to mention their existing range of feature phones. Having more platforms to work on makes their reliance on existing platforms such as Android much less. With Microsoft tying up with Nokia and Google now acquiring Motorola Mobility, it makes sense for Samsung to have something they can call their own in case they start getting step-motherly treatment from Google or Microsoft. Having their own operating system also means they don’t have to follow someone else’s rules and can have full control over it. Sure, they had bada but perhaps even Samsung has realized that it is not destined for greatness after all and hence decided to look at other prospects.
Also, Samsung doesn’t just make smartphones but a host of other devices too and the flexibility of Tizen will allow them to use it on multiple devices, such as their future range of Smart TVs. Although Google has already begun dabbling in that space with their Google TV and their acquisition of Motorola Mobility will certainly help them considering Motorola makes a large chunk of set-top boxes in the US, Samsung has a much wider reach and is not just limited to the US the way Google TV is.
Tizen is set to make a splash in Q1 2012 with the first devices and the SDK being released then. Hopefully it will have a longer run than what MeeGo did and someday will become a viable option to iOS or Android in the smartphone or tablet space.