Samsung has unveiled it’s first Tizen Phone: The Galaxy Z. We explore whether Samsung’s transition to Tizen means the end of the road for Android or not

It is no secret that Samsung is looking to get away from Google when it comes to the Operating Systems that run on its devices.  First, it slaps on Tizen on some of its cameras. Then it ditches Android and replaces it with Tizen in the Galaxy Gear 2. Then it releases an update that updates the first Generation Gear from Tizen to Android.

The Galaxy Z

And now this. Samsung has announced the Samsung Z, which it touts as a premium phone. Also, it is Samsung’s first Tizen phone. Yeah. Samsung has kickstarted the moving of its primary smartphone Operating System from Android to Tizen. Underneath the Samsung Z (We would have liked Samsung X as a name, as it sounds more…Mysterious) is a zippy 2.3 Ghz processor of unknown make, which is pretty beefy (Maybe too beefy).

Powerful, but a ‘Meh’ Screen

Pairing with the powerful processor is an adequate 2 Gigs of RAM. But the place where the ‘Premium’ moniker erodes away is at the screen, which is a 4.8  inch HD Super AMOLED display. It is by no means bad, but when the market is saturated with Full-HD and even  Quad-HD phones, this seems a bit less (Not that you may notice, the human eye has its limits after all). It has got a 8MP camera and a fingerprint sensor too, making it a part of the elite group of the few devices in Samsung’s lineup that has a Fingerprint Sensor. It has 16GB Internal Memory. The radios are pretty standard: WiFi, LTE, Bluetooth and NFC. It runs Tizen, which according to Samsung is pretty fast and is light on resources. It will be available in Black and Gold and only in Russia initially. More details will be announced at Samsung’s Tizen Developer Conference on June 3rd.

The Implications of Using Tizen instead of Android

Now on for the implications. You, the user won’t notice any difference, at least in terms of looks. Samsung has already shown its ability to keep the overall looks of Android (At least Samsung’s Android) and Tizen pretty much the same. You would be hard pressed to notice any difference.

The Chicken and Egg Scenario

However, Tizen doesn’t have a thriving app ecosystem. It would certainly take developers a lot of persuasion to develop for a platform that (currently) no one uses. However, for a start, Android applications can be run on Tizen. Samsung is slowly, but steadily trying to move away from the iron grip of Google. This device, i.e the Galaxy Z is sort of a beta test, to see how a Tizen phone is received by consumers; The Shortcomings of the Tizen OS; Stuff like that. However, it has a long way to go before it can completely transition from Android to Tizen. Read this interesting article by Ron Amadeo or Ars Technica. It is about Google’s hold over Android and how a manufacturer cannot easily switch from Android. Here are some bits from the article:

Samsung doesn’t have many answers for third-party developers that currently rely on Google. Any speculation about Samsung leaving the Google ecosystem is premature until you see it licensing map data or building a cloud messaging API.

This is because the Google Maps API and other APIs will not be available to Samsung if it switches to Tizen.

Taking the Path of No Return

Also, there will be no looking back, since if Samsung shows signs of animosity towards Android, it will be kicked out of the Open Handset Alliance, permanently. Of course, if Samsung wants to go back to Android, it may create its own Android fork, but again: It will not have access to Google services and APIs, which also means Samsung won’t have access to Android’s App Ecosystem. So if Samsung makes the switch, it won’t be able to come crawling back. If in the unlikely situation that Samsung builds a thriving app ecosystem and switches completely to Tizen, it does not mean that Android will fall. According to some, Samsung is one of the pillars of the building that is Android, and if Samsung leaves the Android ecosystem, then Android will come crashing down. This is not true. At least partly. It is true that Samsung makes some of the most successful Android phones and for some people, Samsung IS Android, just like for some people PCs ARE Windows. Samsung has a lot of influence and if it leaves, then Android will surely suffer a blow. That’s a given. But this does not mean that Android will be destroyed. Android will recover, some other manufacturer, like HTC, which makes better built phones than Samsung will occupy Samsung’s place and Android will continue to go on. As majestic as ever. Also, we must not forget, there is a wide, wide world of Android, which is not limited to Samsung. Samsung is a mere blip on the Map, albeit a successful blip. There are millions of Android phones in the market of which only a few are of Samsung. At the lower end of the segment, Android utterly dominates, with iOS non-existent (Literally, due to the lack of multiple devices) and Windows Phone providing poor competition. Here, players like Motorola dominate, with Samsung not getting much tread. Then there is the mid-range segment, where also Samsung does not dominate. Here too Motorola dominates, along with the Google-LG Nexus devices, which provide high-end specs at a mid-range price. Samsung only controls the high-end segment and now, players like HTC , LG and Sony are making themselves visible.

The Secret Behind Samsung’s Success The reason why Samsung is successful, is because, when the first Samsung Galaxy phone appeared, it looked to be the first viable competitor to the iPhone (Albeit arguably with stolen features). The Galaxy S2 massively improved upon it and it too was successful . The S3, following the lines of the S2 became an instant hit and became the phones that represented Android and convinced people that Android is great. Android is awesome.   However with the S4, things started going downhill. Samsung didn’t innovate much with the S4 and instead filled it up with gimmicky features that nobody used. Also, it had the same plastic body of the S3, which people were starting to get tired of. It’s octa-core processor was sort of a gimmick, with only 4 cores running at any given time. Yes, the S4 was bought by many, the excitement and frenzy occupied with earlier Samsung Galaxy launches just wasn’t there. And then comes the S5, which is largely same as the S4 and it has been criticized for the same. People were expecting a complete overhaul, with a metal design and a Quad-HD screen (Of course it wouldn’t show any visual improvements due to the limits of the human eye, but people wanted something new).

Enough is Enough

It is at this point that many turned towards other manufacturers, like HTC and LG, which had started to churn out interesting phones with interesting designs with interesting features.


So, to summarize, Android won’t disappear if Samsung leaves, as competing players are already rising up the ranks, so even if Samsung leaves, others will occupy its throne and lead the Android charge.

The Tizen Conundrum

All this argument, is assuming that Samsung completely switches towards Tizen, which is an extremely unlikely situation. First Samsung has to attract developers for developing for Tizen, to build a thriving app ecosystem. Then it has to license Maps Data from someone (As Google won’t provide it, due to the reasons mentioned in the Ars article) and also has to make certain APIs for making porting easy between Android and Tizen. The porting is required as originally the APIs are made by Google and it won’t give it to Samsung, so Samsung has to make its own APIs which will duplicate the purpose of Google’s APIs, so that developers can port their apps easily, without breaking them. Then Samsung has to pose Tizen as a viable contender to Android, so that people actually buy them. Each of these tasks are herculean and it is unlikely that Samsung will actually be able to do them. Which is why, Samsung isn’t moving away from Android anytime soon.


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