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Samsung OS challenge to Apple and Google faces obstacles

Samsung Electronics has been facing some difficulties with issuing their own OS as the Korean giant was planning to compete with Apple and Google. The worlds largest smartphone maker reported it will invest a large amount of resources on an operating system called Tizen to challenge the mobile software duopoly of iOS and Android.

Tizen has been lagging the support of developers of mobile applications. Samsung desperately needs to stay competitive with some of the smaller Chinese smartphone producers who manage to sustain low prices for acceptable value. Recently, Lenovo planned acquisition of Googles Motorola Mobility handset unit, threatening to push down handset prices and squeeze hardware margins.

“Consumer needs are changing along with the changing times,” Samsung co-Chief Executive Boo-Keun Yoon said last month. “I dont feel you can lead the market by focusing solely on software or hardware.”

Samsung is now using Google Android as an operation system on all its devices which means that the California-based company is taking a percentage of every purchase made on its app store. However, if Tizen proves successful it would give the Korean-based giant a huge advantage as well as far greater opportunities for profit in the already highly saturated mobile handset market.

Samsung, which has been developing Tizen along with Intel Corp., is billions of dollars a year into software development more generally and devoting about 60% of its 67,000 research and development engineers to software innovation, with plans to hire another 800 engineers a year.

Samsung longer term goal is to create an unified system which could serve many devices from smartphones to refrigerators as the company has entered various market segments.

Prototype Tizen devices that has been reviewed so far, look and feel similar to those running Android, with which it shares a common programming code base. But those involved in the project say the prototypes cant be judged as final products, and Tizens central appeal is that it allows for more customization of the interface by carriers and manufacturers than are possible with Android.

NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japans biggest telecommunications operator, had been preparing to announce its first Tizen smartphone in January, with President Kaoru Kato rehearsing his presentation a month in advance, a person familiar with the matter said. At the last minute NTT DoCoMo changed its plans and canceled the offering arguing that there is no demand for a third OS apart from iOS and Android.

The US telecom – Sprint also left Tizen Association last year and now is focusing its resources elsewhere. Spains Telefonica and Frances Orange followed citing the reason for their leave was that Samsung is not ready to launch such a device anytime soon.

Samsung reported Tizen had about 6,000 apps as of December, lagging behind from the nearly one million apps on Apples iOS. “Such an attitude makes it very difficult for Tizen to get approval because right now there are no users.”

“Software developers just care about the number of mobile phones on the market,” Tizen Association Chairman Roy Sugimura said in an interview, cited by The Wall Street Journal.

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