Tizen, the mobile operating system driven by the Linux Foundation, has added 15 new members including Chinese smartphone maker ZTE and Japanese operator Softbank Mobile.
Other major names now on board include Chinese search giant Baidu and US operator Sprint, bought last year by Softbank. The remainder of the 15 comprise mainly mobile game and software developers.
The Tizen Association claims the new intake will add “their voice and expertise” to the future development of the OS, although it remains to be seen how big a stake each will put into the project.
El Reg was still waiting to hear back from several at the time of writing, but a Softbank Mobile spokesman told PC World that the firm would not take a major role in the project’s roadmap and had not decided yet whether to release a Tizen smartmobe.
ZTE, meanwhile, refused to comment but said the majority of its phones will be built on Android.
“ZTE is pleased to join the Tizen Association. ZTE’s membership is consistent with the company’s multi-platform approach to product development," a spokes-entity told The Reg. "ZTE’s comprehensive lineup of mobile devices includes products that support different platforms including Android, Windows and Firefox OS.”
That’s probably not exactly the kind of ringing endorsement Tizen wants to hear at the moment.
Despite the notable backing of Samsung, which has released a Tizen-powered camera and been instrumental in driving the project forward, no Tizen-powered smartphones have reached the market.
First, Samsung executive VP Jong-Deok Choi, who co-chairs the Tizen Technical Steering Group, promised last May that a handset would hit the market in late 2013. That date came and went with no phone appearing.
Then reports emerged at the end of January that NTT Docomo was readying a launch by the end of March. However, the operator then apparently shelved those plans, claiming “the market is not big enough to support three operating systems at this time”.
Time would appear to be running out for Tizen, especially considering rivals Firefox OS and Jolla’s Sailfish OS have actually launched handsets – albeit pretty underwhelming ones.
ZTE has also produced a smartphone running the Firefox OS, so it’s unclear exactly where Tizen fits on the pecking order there.
With Mobile World Congress ten days away at the time of writing and even Microsoft struggling to turn third place among mobile-OS makers into a profitable business, now looks like be a good time for Tizen to show its partners and the public there’s a future for the operating system. ®