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April 16, 2014

Samsung to launch Tizen phones this year

New versions of Note phablet and Gear smartwatch also coming soon.

By Vinod

Samsung has confirmed that it is hoping to launch two new mobile phones powered by its own Tizen operating system later this year, as well as new iterations of its Note and Gear devices.

Speaking to Reuters, Yoon Han-kil, senior vice president of Samsung’s product strategy team, said that although the company still saw handsets powered by Google’s Android OS as its ‘main business’, the company would be looking to Tizen-powered devices in order to reach new markets.

"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."

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.

It would also open up new revenue streams from sales of third-party apps and services on its devices, allowing the Galaxy S5 manufacturer to challenge the might of both Android and Apple’s iOS.

Samsung has already dropped Android and switched to Tizen for the latest version of its Gear smartwatch, the second generation of which went on sale last week.

Yoon says that the company eventually wants its Gear devices to be compatible with all Android-based smartphones, even those built by other companies, which will put Tizen directly up against Android in the marketplace.

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Despite this, Samsung is also planning to introduce an Android-based smartwatch later this year, Yoon said.

The company is also planning an updated version of its Galaxy Note phablet device with what Yoon called a "new form factor", which will launch sometime in the second half of the year, although he wouldn’t reveal exactly when.

"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.

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