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May 12, 2014

Russia and India to be testing grounds for Samsung’s mobile operating system

Tizen smartphones to be launched in emerging smart phone markets.

By Ben Sullivan

Samsung is readying itself to launch Tizen operating system based smartphones in India and Russia.

The move is Samsung’s latest step to roll out a rival to the Android operating system, and follows the use of Tizen in its first generation of Gear fitness watches.

Tizen is Samsung’s attempt at a mobile and wearable tech operating system. It is aimed at ending Samsung’s dependence on the Google-owned Android platform, and the firm hopes it can reap multiple economic and compatibility benefits from using Tizen.

The South Korean company is planning to launch the smartphones at an ‘Unpacked’ event in Moscow in May. Samsung devices such as the Galaxy S5 have been launched at ‘Unpacked’ events in the past.

A report compiled by Yandex called ‘Internet in Regions’ showed the number of people in Russia using the internet on a mobile device grew by 150% in 2013, reaching 25.5 million users. Forty one per cent of smartphone owners in Russia use an Android-powered device, with Apple’s iOS taking a 45% share.

In April, senior vice president of Samsung’s product strategy team told Reuters than the company will be using Tizen-powered devices to reach new markets.

Yoon Han-kil said: "We had tried to launch (Tizen phones) … but couldn’t because of poor market conditions," Yoon said. "We have changed our strategy and will release the phones in a few countries where we can do well."

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Although Yoon said that the long-awaited Tizen phones would have to make up around 15% of Samsung’s total device shipments to be considered a success, the introduction of such devices would help the company lessen its reliance on Android software.

"Our ultimate goal is to make products that consumers really aspire to have. This is how we are trying to find a breakthrough in the stagnant premium market," he said.

Ericsson recently predicted that the smartphone penetration rate in India, which is now at 90 million users in 2013, will rise to 520 million users in 2020. The firm also predicted a rise of 69% in the number of mobile broadband users over the next six years.

In February, the founder of Ubuntu Mark Shuttleworth told CBR that Tizen is a "fading force" and that it does not pose a threat to other operating systems.

Speaking on a conference call, Shuttleworth said: When asked if Samsung’s Tizen open-source operating system could pose a threat to the the success of Ubuntu in the mobile market, Shuttleworth said: "Carriers have distanced themselves from Tizen, and Samsung will repurpose it into interesting but far out products. The spirit behind Tizen was credible, but the backers are seeking too much control and it’s highly unlikely it will be adopted or shipped successfully in the mobile market. Tizen is now a fading force.

"Other new entrants are facing the same reality, and our goal is to dodge that landmine."



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