Samsung promises that Tizen, while plagued by setbacks, will still deliver

Samsung's bid to provide its own mobile operating system in addition to Android has faced numerous roadblocks in its years of development as the Korean electronics giant tries to compete with OS giants such as Google and Apple. 

Han Sang-kyun/Yonhap/AP/File
A man walks past banners advertising smartphones by Samsung and Apple at a mobile phone shop in Seoul, South Korea, Nov. 22, 2013.

Samsung has long been promising to roll out its own mobile operating system for smart phone users. But whether or not it can deliver on that promise is a question that was once again posed Monday as the Korean consumer electronics giant announced delays to its operating system called Tizen. 

The setback came as news broke that Samsung would be delaying sales in Russia of a smart phone that ran Tizen. In a short statement Monday, Samsung laid out its reasons for the delay. 

"To further enhance [the] Tizen ecosystem, Samsung plans to postpone the launch of Samsung Z in Russia," the statement reads. "Samsung will continue to actively work with Tizen Association members pursuing to further develop both Tizen OS and the Tizen ecosystem."

This offers a glimpse into one of the key problems facing Samsung as it tries to create an all-in-one smart phone not dependent on Google's Android operating system: applications. Simply put, Samsung is having difficulty attracting developers to make mobile apps for its new operating system. A dearth of apps can mean an all but empty Tizen store. And in the smart phone era, it is the apps created by third-party developers that can spell the difference between a competitive operating system and the blustering upstarts that never get off the ground. 

These types of problems have crept up repeatedly as Samsung attempts to promote its budding operating system. 

"The smartphone will appear on the Russian market later, when we can offer our users a fullest portfolio of applications," reads a Samsung statement from earlier this month, offering a kind of forewarning of this current delay in Tizen-equipped smart phones. 

The Samsung Z, the first Tizen-powered smart phone, was on display at the Tizen Developer Conference in San Francisco early last month. The operating system was touted for its "fast and powerful software performance" that delivers "fast, optimal performance with improved memory management." 

But Tizen has been plagued with problems since its outset. In development for years, Samsung was supposed to launch the first Tizen smart phone in Japan in January. That is, until Japan's largest wireless carrier backed out at the last minute and called off the launch. Similarly, an official launch for a Tizen device was cancelled in Moscow earlier this month, which left developers befuddled. 

Although Samsung's smart phones outsell the competition, they are reliant on Google's Android operating system. Samsung smart phones held more than 30 percent of the market share in the first fiscal quarter of 2014, nearly double that of its next closest competitor, Apple, according to market research firm IDC. But among those phones, more than 80 percent were running Android

Having its own operating system means Samsung can do more to customize the user experience for its phones in addition to fully monetizing the apps that are downloaded onto its phones – which generate revenue in a variety of ways, from users paying for the apps themselves, to in-app advertising and in-app purchases. 

Samsung has given no details as to what its plans are in the wake of this most recent delay. 

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