Yoon Han-kil, senior VP of Samsung’s product strategy team, told Reuters that Samsung’s first Tizen phone will ship toward the end of this quarter.
Samsung will ship a high-end smartphone in July followed by a mid-range model, Yoon reportedly said. No carriers were mentioned.
The interview raises hope among Tizen fans that the open source Linux-based platform will not fade away or be limited to other device categories such as Tizen’s Gear 2 smartwatches, which were announced in February at Mobile World Congress, and have recently begun to ship to mostly favorable reviews.
By MWC, Japanese carrier and major Tizen backer NTT DoCoMo had already revealed that it was postponing its previously delayed Tizen phone launch indefinitely, and at MWC it became clear Orange was also backing away. In a Wall Street Journal interview, Samsung execs were not even able to promise a Tizen phone would ship in 2014.
Samsung’s Feb. 24 Tizen rollout teaser
(click image to enlarge)
“We had tried to launch (Tizen) with DoCoMo and Orange … but couldn’t because of poor market conditions,” Yoon was quoted as saying by Reuters. “We have changed our strategy and will release the phones in a few countries where we can do well.” Later, he added, “The slowing high-end market is indeed a concern for most manufacturers.”
At MWC, IDC projected that smartphone shipments would grow 19.3 percent in 2014 — half the growth of last year’s 39.2 percent year-to-year rise. The publication further projected that smartphones would drop to 8.3 percent growth in 2017 and 6.2 percent in 2018. Earlier this month, Samsung reported a second straight quarter of profit decline, due primarily to smartphone competition from cheaper Chinese rivals, says Reuters.
Android will remain Samsung’s chief mobile OS, but Tizen or Windows will be slotted in markets that Android doesn’t address, Yoon told Reuters. Judging from the revelation that the first two phones will be high- and mid-range models, however, Samsung does not appear to be going after the cut-rate emerging world market that Mozilla is addressing with the Linux-based Firefox OS. Yoon added that Tizen would need to reach 15 percent market share before it could be considered a success.
Galaxy S 5
(click to enlarge)
According to Yoon, sales of the Galaxy S 5 Android phone, which launched last Friday, have been stronger than they were for the first week of the Galaxy S 4. Following the anti-bloatware lead from its frenemy partner Google during its short stewardship over Motorola and its Moto X phones, the Galaxy S 5 offers fewer software and services, Yoon told Reuters. The S 5 shipped with 40 pre-installed apps, compared to 50 on the S 4. New power management features, meanwhile, automatically shut down unnecessary apps when the battery runs low.
Yoon also confirmed to the publication that Samsung is indeed developing an Android Wear smartwatch device in addition to its Tizen-based Gear 2 smartwatches.