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Tizen looks less an Android-Killer as carrier support wanes

Ever since Android started to get real traction (probably around 2010) there’s been a perception of a ‘third ecosystem-sized’ hole in the smartphone landscape. A hole that might have been RIM’s to fill (it was thought at one stage), then it might have belonged to Microsoft (and still might), but at any rate it was thought that the market had put too many eggs in too few baskets and another OS was needed. Today, with Android now completely dominating the smartphone market, the hole is percieved to be even wider.

Enter Tizen. Tizen is being heralded as a potential Android-Killer (just as Android was seen as the potential iPhone killer in 2008/9). The OS effort is backed Samsung, Intel, Vodafone, Orange and others and like Android it is deemed capable of offering connectivity and intelligence to all gadgets - TVs, cars, tablets and laptops, not just phones.

What makes Tizen at all credible is the support it’s recieving from Samsung. Yes, Samsung is the company that’s arguably been the prime beneficiary of Android (apart from Google itself of course) , so why, you might ask, is it trying to get another open source platform up and running? The consensus of opinion is that Samsung thinks Google has taken too much control over the Android platform and it wants to build up a rival, ‘properly’ open, OS and jump ship when it can.

That thesis is probably over-combative. Samsung is keeping its options open. Should an alternative OS start to rise (as, at one point, it seemed Windows Phone might), and should Google’s commercial behaviour deteriorate, then it’s only prudent that Samsung should make sure it’s on the inside to take advantage, rather than shut out. Tizen might be to keep Google in check, not completely thwart it. Which might be why its progress has been so slow.

But all that conjecture might be beside the point because it now seems that carrier support for Tizen has suddenly fallen away following reported delays in readying the new platform and delays with Samsung’s first handset.

NTT DoCoMo has put Tizen on hold and the Wall Street Journal reports that both Sprint and Telefonica are leaving the Tizen Association.

NTT told the WSJ that it didn’t think there was enough room for another OS to be introduced, just right at the moment.

And anyway, while there may be a host of strong ‘industry’ reasons to plant another OS it’s more difficult to see how a new software platform which - by all the leaked photographic evidence - looks pretty-much like Android, is going to do it for users or app developers. What’s the incentive to move? If Microsoft, with all its clout, finds it difficult to get properly into the market, what chance has a ‘me too’ looking OS.

Perhaps we’ll find out at MWC.

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