While lawyers pettifog their patent arguments in the Apple-Samsung World Series, the South Korean has been quietly recruiting partners and developers to Tizen, and has launched its first Tizen-based product – a camera, not a phone.
While the South Korean company is acting as evangelist-in-chief for the Tizen operating system, the project itself has a couple of years of history behind it, having been established in 2011 by the Linux Foundation.
It's been a bit of a slog: back in May, the project still expected its first smartphones to land by the end of this year, something that's proved unachievable.
So instead of a snazzy smartphone, the just-ended Tizen developer conference has instead focussed on the recruitment of a new batch of developers – 36 in all – sitting alongside the big names on the board (as well as Samsung and Intel, there's Fujitsu and Huawei alongside a bunch of carriers). New recruits announced at this month's Tizer developer conference include Here (the Nokia mapping service), Konami, McAfee, Panasonic, Sharp, The Weather Channel, and smaller names like Appbackr.
Without a phone to tout, Samsung instead showed off a camera (for those unfamiliar with the idea, it's a smartphone that can't make voice calls but has an interchangeable lens and can upload photos), the NX300M, to show off Tizen's faster boot time and ability to run third-party applications (if and when).
While there's a lot of focus on if-or-when the first smartphone running the Linux-and-HTML5-based operating system, the camera also points to Samsung's Internet of Things pretensions, something underlined by the South Korean head-hunting Apple's Siri svengali Luc Julia to head up its SAMI (Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions) project.
According to EE Times, Samsung is tipping $US100 million into that effort, in the form of an accelerator fund to help attract partners to SAMI. Samsung's too savvy to let SAMI stand or fall on Tizen's success – but Tizen is designed to be lightweight (the smallest version can fit in 256 KB of RAM) and open, and its backers clearly hope to extend it beyond the world of the smartphone.
Samsung's potential as a player in the Internet of Things is there: it has the washing machines, the dryers, the TVs, the computers, phones and tablets, and of course the cameras.
So while Tizen's biggest backers come from outfits more familiar with smartphones than whitegoods, it's feasible that the OS could accumulate some momentum before Samsung tries to invade the twin turfs of Apple and Android.
Of course, it's also inevitable that whatever form of smartphone Tizen lands on will get the lawyerly tear-down in search of patent violations – in which case, Samsung will find itself swatting sue-balls from Apple, Google, Microsoft … pretty much World+Dog, because the law department is where innovation goes to die. ®