Welcome to 2013 and the next chapter in the mobility wars. Next up to the plate, Tizen. Now I know many of you will be saying “hey Tizen isn’t new to the game, it’s been around in one incarnation or another for years now.” While that may be true, this looks to be the year when it breaks out of the open-source basement and hits the streets as a real contender especially now that Samsung spokesperson has confirmed to CNET “that the company plans ‘to unveil competitive Tizen devices within this year.'” With the mobile market really being a two-horse race between Apple and Samsung at this point, that’s a big deal for the market.
Truth is there are a lot of new operating systems flying around and everyone is looking for the next big thing, but without manufacturers backing, it’s hard to get a hold in the market. Right now, Android owns about 70% of the smartphone market with Apple owning around 14%. That leaves another 16% between the various other players including Microsoft and RIM. If Samsung makes a move to Tizen, that could take a big bite out of Google’s market share. However, since Android is only a small part of their revenue, it wouldn’t be a death blow. But if you look at Apple, it’s a different story. According to Nigam Arora over at Marketwatch, “A market-share loss of even 2%-3% will hurt Apple shares; moreover, if Tizen takes off, it will add to the negative perceptions about future growth prospects.” If you look at the current trajectory of Apple’s stock price and it’s recent announcement that it “has cut orders for iPhone 5 parts for the current quarter due to weaker-than-expected demand,” this could prove to be a big body blow to the company and it’s iOS operating system.
When I look at what’s happening here, I can’t help but think back to a blog I wrote last year (Open Source Won the War – Did Apple Miss a Memo?). I’ve always felt that Apple’s continued insistence on their proprietary OS would lead to their downfall and 2013 may just be the year that we see this start to happen. We’ve seen Apple try their hand at taking their operating systems to other consumer products such as Apple TV, but they haven’t been able to get a true foothold. Samsung already has a good chunk of the TV market and can easily port an OS such as Tizen to that platform, allowing for a true integrated experience from your phone to your tablet to your TV.
With full integration across platforms, we could see Tizen become the version of VHS with numerous other players either abandoning their current platforms or integrating with the Tizen platform to give their users to best overall experience. Also, with further adoption of a true open source platform, we are going to see many new integrated products pop up on the market that won’t be reliant on what manufacturer you have for your current device. Will this be a deathblow to all but Android? Only time will tell but their truly is a new contender to watch out for in 2013.