The long evolution of Tizen continues and is about to get its biggest boost yet. Samsung is going to merge its Bada platform with the Tizen project, bringing the Linux-based operating system to more smartphones and developers across the world.
Tizen is the Linux smartphone operating system that was once called MeeGo that, in turn, was once the confluence of Maemo and Moblin from Nokia and Intel. Nothing tangible has ever really come out of the Tizen/MeeGo project except for a few demo phones and the Nokia N9 and N950. With Samsung throwing its manufacturing weight behind the Tizen development project, that may be about to change.
A Twisted Road For Tizen
The growth path of Tizen has been nothing if not amusing. First, Nokia and Intel got together to merge Linux platforms. MeeGo was born. Nokia then found itself with a serious problem of a “burning platform” and had to jump to Windows Phone and cut its ties with the MeeGo project. Intel was left to shop MeeGo around looking to gain some traction. It eventually found a home with the Linux Foundation, which subsumed the project under a consortium with a wide array of so-called supporters, Samsung included.
Samsung’s participation comes through the LiMo group. When we wrote about the purported “Death of MeeGo” last September and the rise of the LiMo group, we pointed out that Samsung would have a great opportunity to build a framework around Bada development with the backing of the Linux developer ecosystem. Near five months later, that is exactly what is happening.
According to a report from Forbes, the integration of Bada and Tizen will give developers the same tools to develop for each platform. That would make perfect sense. Call it “streamlining Linux mobile operating systems.” Basically, the entire project, from the very beginning, has been to absorb other Linux platforms. Overall, one would think that would give Tizen more functionality and a broader developer base, but that is not what has happened. Every time Tizen has absorbed and changed its name, the development timeline has been set back. Now that Samsung is bring Bada to the project, will this change?
Great For Tizen While Samsung Hedges Its Bets
The great thing for Tizen about the Bada integration is that Bada actually exists on smartphones across the world. Bada was built by Samsung to be a low-end smartphone operating system intended to go head-to-head with Nokia’s Symbian and S-series devices. Tizen and MeeGo were never really designed for low end devices. Bada integration could give Tizen a wider swath of the smartphone vertical with more apps and developers across smartphones of different hardware specifications.
The irony has the potential to be delicious. Nokia ditched MeeGo and is eventually putting Symbian to bed. MeeGo then turns to Intel and the Linux Foundation that turns to Samsung and Bada. All of a sudden the low-end smartphone market is flooded with Bada/Tizen smartphones from Samsung competing directly against Nokia.
By taking a broader role in Tizen, Samsung is giving itself more options. The company does not shy away from producing smartphone of varying sizes, costs and platforms making everything from flagship Android devices to Windows Phones and bottom of the market devices running both Android and Bada. Tizen and Bada give Samsung its own recourse against the potential Google/Motorola partnership and the rise of other dominant players in the Android ecosystem.
According to Forbes, there will be “at least one or two” Tizen devices from Samsung this year. Look for announcements to be made during the summer with release schedules for the end of the year.