Back in 2007, the path for Samsung to create its own operating system began. Three years later, the Korean company started developing Tizen, an open-source OS based on Linux’s kernel. One of the most notorious characteristics of this software is that it is widely used.
On the smartphone market, Samsung boosted their operating system by launching different generations of the company’s smartphone Samsung Z, a device that was launched in India aiming a different market compared to the one in Europe and the United States. Later that year in June, after Z1’s launch during January, the company announced had sold a million devices.
Despite being on smartphones, Tizen OS is not only used on mobile devices by mobile app development companies. Tizen can also be found in a wide range of products from the company like tablets, smartwatches, as well as Smart TVs, In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI), smart home appliances, robotic vacuum cleaners or cameras, for example.
In 2007, the creation of the Linux Mobile Foundation placed the roots for the future of Samsung’s own operating system. But it was not until 2010, when the Korean company started developing its Samsung Linux Platform.
At that same time, Intel was co-leading with Nokia the MeeGo project, another open source mobile OS based on Linux. In 2011, Intel abandoned the operating system program to unite forces with Samsung on developing Tizen.
In parallel to Tizen, the Korean company was developing another software project under the name of Bada with some open source components. This OS was discontinued in 2013, in favour of the main operating system that Samsung was developing at that moment - Tizen.
Tizen’s first version was released back in April 30, 2012, and on September 25, a 2.0 alpha version arrived. Despite launching the software, the first hardware did not arrive until October 2013, when Samsung launched the NX300M smart camera. Later that month, Systena shipped the first tablet running Tizen OS.
Though Samsung’s Tizen arrived to different products, it was not until February 2014 when the company fully potentiated the software. That same month, Samsung launched the Samsung Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches, the first wearables running Tizen instead of Android Wear, as the first generation of Samsung Gear used to.
Since then, the company haslaunched different mobile devices running Tizen. Most of them, are low-cost smartphones, as the previous mentioned. Samsung’s Z1, Z2, Z3 or Z4; as well as smartwatches and Samsung’s connected car solution, Samsung Connect Auto.
TIZEN AND IOT
Recently, Samsung launched the second milestone of Tizen 4.0. The new version of the software comes with the possibility of a wearable emulator, so mobile app development companies can emulate the app before launching it to the general public. But, Tizen 4.0 M2, also comes with a preview of Tizen IoT.
Tizen IoT is a project aiming to simplify IoT applications development, supporting either headless and headed modes. With this software, Tizen IoT devices could be used with Samsung’s SmartThings Cloud and controlled using the application Samsung Connect.
The idea with this new framework is unifying the ecosystem of Tizen, which is really fragmented with different hardware devices like TV, wearables and mobiles. But Samsung’s idea is not just to support its own products with Tizen IoT’s framework, but to support all type of IoT devices based on a Linux kernel. The benefit with this new framework is the possibility to embed small IoT devices like light bulbs, thermostats and scales.
TIZEN’S MARKET SHARE
Just 70,000 Tizen smartphones were sold during 2017’s first quarter, according to Strategy Analytics, a market research firm. The amount of units sold are just a 0% of the market share in the global market. Years before, in 2015, Samsung sold 2,900,000 units (0,2%), while during 2016, just 980,000 (0,1%).
However, Tizen’s market share on IoT products has nothing to do with the smartphone one. In fact, during the first quarter of 2017, Tizen OS overtook Android Wear on smartwatches market share, reaching a 19% against an 18%.
But Samsung is developing a new operating system in a new environment, where the competence is not as high as it is on the smartphone OS market. While Apple iOS and Android OS dominate almost 99,9% of the OS market share, their interest in IoT devices is not as high as Samsung’s.
The advantage Android OS has on the smartphone operating system market is that Apple, its only competitor, is limited to the hardware devices they sell. Whereas Android is compatible with different smartphones across the market. This is the same situation where Samsung is right now. On the IoT market, the Korean company has a wide range of devices that use Tizen as its OS, allowing a broader integration between Samsung’s IoT products and starting the path towards the smart home.
When Samsung announced the first milestone of Tizen 4.0, they informed that it was the most successful Linux-based embedded OS in the world. But what would happen if Apple decided to develop some IoT devices, in addition to its mobile and computer products?
Cupertino’s company wearable, the Apple Watch, has a 57% of smartwatches OS market share, far above Tizen’s 19%. But the difference between Apple, Google or Amazon and Samsung with Tizen is the way to implement IoT.
While Samsung creates products and embeds them with Tizen OS, the other companies just have a platform that allows to control all third-party IoT products. The reason is the main interest on developing a smart speaker virtual assistant.
Apple introduced HomePod, Amazon launched Echo and Google is selling Google Home, all these products can control, via third-party devices and apps developed by different mobile app development companies, different products around the house. While Apple does not have any products that are internet connected, Google has the ones created by Nest.
Nest Labs is a company specialized in different home connected products such as cameras, doorbells, alarms and mostly known by its thermostats. Google bought the company during June 2014, and in 2016 it was considered a disaster. Google, now Alphabet, did not launch new products even though the company’s budget was unlimited.
But Samsung offers something different to the users and mobile app development companies. They are the creators and builders of Tizen OS as well as the different IoT products.
SECURITY RISKS WITH TIZEN
Before Samsung presented the new version of the software, Tizen 4.0, during May’s Tizen Developer Conference, an article defining Tizen as a “dream for hackers” was published on VICE’s technology magazine, Motherboard.
The article, written by Kim Zetter, interviewed Amihai Neiderman, an Israeli researcher who found 40 unknown vulnerabilities, allowing a hacker to remotely access millions of Samsung products without the need of physical access, like smart TVs, mobile phones and smartwatches. All these devices were already on the market or scheduled for a future release.
The major vulnerability that Neiderman found was related to TizenStore app, Samsung’s app marketplace. There was a flaw in the design, which allowed to hijack the software, and deliver malicious code to a Samsung device. After the article was published, Samsung got in touch with Neiderman to look into these vulnerabilities.
THE FUTURE OF TIZEN
Before launching Tizen 4.0, the Korean company expected to implement Tizen to all smart home appliances by 2020. But the problem is that the company is the only one using and developing the operating system in their devices.
A problem, which is considerably high because Tizen is an open-source OS and not a privately held one. Taking into account that Tizen depends on Samsung’s products to expand, means that the Korean company will have to keep developing smart home appliances as perfect as they can to keep on as leaders of IoT’s OS market.
In 2017, Samsung expects to have over the 60% market share on premium TVs, far above 2016 48%. But the company’s market share could be affected if some other IoT manufacturers launch their products.
Now Tizen runs in the vast majority of IoT products and Samsung hopes to keep it that way, as it has over 100 million devices on the market. But what if new companies like Apple or Google start launching IoT products? Will the new smart home devices launched by other companies be Tizen OS’ end?
Recently, LG launched a new Smart Instaview fridge, but with Amazon’s Alexa implemented on it. It has some differences compared to Samsung’s smart fridge, specially the price, but it is a beginning for the implementation of new devices to a smart home by different companies, not only Samsung.
Not everything about Tizen is the market share, it is also about security. Going back to Zetter’s article, is the operating system safe enough? Could those vulnerabilities appear on future versions or will Samsung put more attention to the final release?
DEVELOPING APPS FOR TIZEN OS
But for Tizen mobile app development companies, there is also the possibility to develop apps using HTML5 and other web technologies. Via a Software Development Kit (SDK), there is the possibility to write apps for the compatible devices. These mobile devices can run different OS like Firefox OS, Ubuntu Touch, Windows Phone, Android, Tizen and webOS without a browser.
In fact, Android apps can run on Tizen but with the help of third-party software. The only need is to run an Application Compatibility Layer (ACL) that allows the Android APK to run on Tizen.
Despite all the mobile app development possibilities, not all the features and uses of Tizen are open source. Some internally components developed by Samsung features, like the calendar or the music player application, use the Flora License. It is like an Apache license but Samsung only grants patents to Tizen Certified Platforms.
In fact, the Flora License is not approved by the Open Source Initiative, so mobile app development companies are not sure if they can legally make use of the native app framework and the graphical components to make GPL apps, though the source code access is guaranteed.
The main feature copyrighted by Samsung is Tizen’s SDK, despite it is built using open source components. All the information for mobile app development on Tizen is in its developers website, where mobile app development companies can find Tizen Studio, to develop web and native apps for the operating system, which will be available on the TizenStore as well as some tips.
On our forum you can read more information and say your thoughts about Tizen’s future and what to expect as a mobile app development company.