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NTT DoCoMo backs away from early 2014 Tizen release

Jan 17, 2014  |  Eric Brown
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NTT DoCoMo says it has scratched plans for a March launch of Samsung’s first Tizen smartphone, and the Japanese carrier offered no revised timetable.

Japan’s largest mobile carrier and one of the most devoted backers of the mobile Linux OS Tizen said on Jan. 17 that it has postponed a planned March released of the first Tizen smartphone, and is indefinitely shelving the project, according to The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch. NTT DoCoMo spokesman So Hiroki was said to have told reporters, “The market is not big enough to support three operating systems at this time.” Hiroki cited research by IDC Japan that estimated a stagnant 2.2 percent growth in Japan from April through September 2013.

Hiroki was quoted as saying NTT DoCoMo would continue to work to develop Tizen phones. However, he did not offer a revised release schedule.

NTT DoCoMo has been a staunch supporter of Tizen, as well as the earlier LiMo Foundation, which supplied a good chunk of Tizen’s code to the Linux Foundation-hosted project. NTT DoCoMo was one of the few carriers that actually released LiMo-based phones, along with fellow LiMo and Tizen backer Vodafone. According to MarketWatch, NTT DoCoMo, which is currently focused on Android phones, wanted a third mobile platform to ward off Apple’s iPhone offered by rival Japanese carrier Softbank. However, with the iPhone on the rise in Japan, NTT DoCoMo finally began carrying the iPhone last September.


Samsung GT-I8800

Samsung’s Tizen phone was originally planned for a late 2012 release, but that was bumped to the first half of 2013. By May, images and spec lists were popping up on the web purporting to show a Tizen phone prototype called the GT-I8800 (pictured at right). In July, however, Samsung said the release would be delayed until the third quarter. According to MarketWatch, NTT DoCoMo had planned to ship Samsung’s debut Tizen phone in October, but the schedule was pushed out again. Samsung execs were quoted at the time as saying the platform needed more apps at launch. Also confusing the issue at the time were tipped plans to offer a low-end version of the platform for budget phones.

By October, it was clear that the Samsung phones would be delayed until 2014. By late December, there were mixed signals, with some reports suggesting a year-end 2014 debut for Tizen phones while others said the phones would be released in the first half of the year following an unveiling at Mobile World Congress next month in Barcelona.

That announcement is still likely to happen. MarketWatch suggested that European carriers and Tizen partners Orange and Vodafone may still be on track to release Tizen phones in the first half of the year. However, NTT DoCoMo’s reversal could change those plans.

Considering all the delays of Tizen, as well as of Ubuntu Phone, which now appears to be postponed until 2015, it’s amazing Google and HTC were able to release the first Android G1 phone in Nov. 2008, only a year after the Open Handset Alliance (OHA) announced the Android platform.
 

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