A few of you may have seen that last week I wrote about improving momentum behind mobile OS project Tizen.
Well now I have a bit more detail from some of the key players involved.
For those who haven’t heard of it, Tizen is an open source alternative to Android, iOS and Windows Phone. Begun in 2011 by the Linux Foundation, it’s already got the backing of Samsung, Huawei, Intel Vodafone, Orange and NTT Docomo.
However, as of yet there are still no handsets, despite much expectation to the contrary.
Unruffled, last week the Tizen Association announced an impressive 15 new members, which bodes well for the on-going prosperity of the platform..
On second glance, though, it’s not as positive a news story as it seems.
First up there are only four major mobile names among the 15 – ZTE, Softbank Mobile, Sprint and Baidu – with the rest a group of smallish mobile game and software makers, few of which I’d heard of.
I asked the firms whether their joining the association meant we could finally expect a handset to have a look at, but sadly even this prospect is unlikely.
A spokesman for Japanese operator Softbank said that “currently nothing is decided on the future development of Tizen OS smartphones”.
SoftBank Mobile joined the Tizen Association Partner Program to study the platform technology. Unlike some of the board members (like NTT DOCOMO), we are not taking an active role in developing or promoting Tizen. We have participated in developer conferences in the past, too.
Then this came in from ZTE:
ZTE’s membership is consistent with the company’s multi-platform approach to product development. ZTE’s comprehensive line-up of mobile devices includes products that support different platforms including Android, Windows and Firefox OS.
Hardly a ringing endorsement from either party then.
So will we ever see a Tizen phone? NTT Docomo has backtracked on plans to launch this spring, apparently stating that “the market is not big enough to support three operating systems at this time”.
That said, the invites have already been sent out to hacks attending Mobile World Congress of a Tizen press conference in which the association is said to be finally showing off some actual hardware.
It better be good. Even with Samsung on board, time’s running out and the market is barely big enough for Windows Phone – not to mention the likes of Firefox OS, Sailfish and others – let alone a fourth name.