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First Tizen phone postponed indefinitely

Jul 11, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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The Samsung Z smartphone unveiled in June as the first Tizen phone, was a no-show at its launch event in Russia, and Samsung offered no revised ship date.

After Samsung’s early June announcement of the first Tizen phone — the Samsung Z — we thought we were finally done writing “Tizen phone delayed again” updates. We were wrong. However, considering there’s no new timetable for release, perhaps this will be the last such story after all.



Samsung Z, where art thou?
(click images to enlarge)

According to the Wall Street Journal, the launch of the Tizen phone in Russia was supposed to occur today at a Tizen developer conference after Samsung earlier said it would be released in the third quarter. The launch was cancelled, however, amid speculation that Russian carriers balked at the continuing lack of apps. According to the Journal, only about half of the 300 seats were filled to hear speakers including Samsung executive Dmitry Anosov.

“The most obvious advantage [of developing for the Tizen phone] is that you’ll be at the top in a half empty store on a decent premium device,” Anosov was quoted as telling the audience. Stirring words, indeed.

The Journal interviewed a few developers who seemed to take the news in stride. None of the quoted developers seemed ready to give up, but none appeared to know when the phone would finally arrive.

Unlike the first Firefox OS phones, which targeted budget shoppers in underserved markets, the Samsung Z is a mid- to high-end phone. The high-end part mostly derives from the powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 system-on-chip, with four Krait 400 cores clocked to 2.3GHz. The resolution of the 4.8-inch display is fairly limited for that size, at 1280 x 720 pixels, and the closest thing the phone has in the way of cutting edge features is a fingerprint sensor. Other specs are fairly competitive, however, including 2GB of RAM, 16GB of flash, as well as 8- and 2.1-megapixel cameras. A full range of sensors and wireless radios are also available.

Or might be available. Or would have been…

Last year, Samsung admitted to several delays of the much hyped Tizen phone, and then received a body blow in January of this year when Japanese carrier and major Tizen partner said it was postponing its planned March release of a Tizen phone indefinitely. After that, Orange and others mobile providers stepped back from launch events, and it seemed Tizen was a goner.

Samsung finally got around to officially announcing the phone in June. However, the commitment to only one market — Russia — led many to speculate that Tizen was just going through the motions after Samsung’s patent agreement and general ceasefire with longtime frenemy Google. The irony is that Samsung would appear to be doubling down on Android when sales of its industry-leading Galaxy phones have slumped. Earlier this week, the Korean consumer electronics giant unveiled 2Q financial results that fell $1.4 billion short of analyst expectations. Slow smartphone sales in China were targeted as the culprit.

The news of the Tizen delay follows Samsung’s somewhat surprising release of an Android Wear based smartwatch — the Samsung Gear Live — so soon after releasing its Tizen-based Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo smartwatches. Yet, Samsung does seem to have plans for the open source Linux based OS in other form-factors — Tizen has appeared in a Samsung NX300M camera and was shown in a Samsung refrigerator.

Meanwhile, a Tizen IVI variant, which has more involvement from Intel than Samsung, recently appeared in the first release of the Linux Foundation’s Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) stack. AGL may well appear in Toyota and/or Jaguar/Land Rover vehicles in the next year or two.
 

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