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Samsung Electronics to Launch Tizen TVs In February

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Samsung Electronics to Launch Tizen TVs In February

 

LAS VEGAS— Samsung Electronics Co. will expand the use of its homegrown operating system beyond wearable devices to include Tizen in its televisions sold starting in February, its chief executive said, highlighting the tech company’s renewed push for adoption of the alternative platform that has struggled to take off.

 

In an interview ahead of the Consumer Electronics Show, B.K. Yoon, Samsung’s top executive in charge of its consumer-electronics business, said Tizen TV sets will be available in the U.S. and Korea first, and the company will gradually roll them out in other markets later this year.

 

“We’ve been at [Tizen development] for years and a lot of money was spent,” Mr. Yoon said. “We’re going to continue upgrading the platform.”

 

Samsung is widening the use of Tizen to beef up its own internal software capabilities as it attempts to compete better with Google Inc. and Apple Inc. in the more lucrative market for software and services. The South Korean company, whose profit from mobile phones has tumbled amid stiff competition, has been developing Tizen as an alternative to Google’s Android mobile operating system for many years. But because of a lack of interest from app developers, Samsung has delayed the launch of a Tizen-based smartphone several times.

 

The majority of Samsung’s smartphones use Android, but Google controls the user experience and is increasingly tightening rules on how much Android handset makers such as Samsung can modify their phones to attract new consumers. Android and Apple’s iOS have a tight grip on the mobile-operating-system market, together holding more than a 95% share, according to third-quarter data from Strategy Analytics, making it difficult for alternative operating systems such as Tizen or Microsoft Corp. ’s Windows to compete.

 

But launching Tizen on TVs could have its merits, analysts say, as Samsung already holds a dominant position in the TV category with roughly one-third of the global market. There isn’t a dominant or unified platform for Internet-connected TVs yet so the market is up for grabs. Rival LG Electronics Inc. is competing with Samsung through its WebOS platform, the business it acquired from Hewlett-Packard Co. in 2013. Meanwhile, efforts by Google to power TVs with its proprietary software haven’t taken off despite years of development.

 

“If we have our own [TV] platform it will give us much greater flexibility in what we want to do,” Mr. Yoon said. He added that a Tizen-based smartphone is still scheduled to be launched this year in India, but declined to provide more specifics. Mr. Yoon said Tizen might have a better chance of succeeding in the TV market because it isn’t as reliant as smartphones on the availability of applications. Tizen also allows for low power consumption and less memory, he said. Tizen also could make it easier for users to switch from watching traditional TV channels to other Web-based video streaming platforms such as YouTube, Samsung said. “There could be other forms of Web-connected Samsung TVs, but they will be eventually switched to Tizen-powered ones,” Mr. Yoon said.

 

Whether Samsung can succeed with Tizen, though, still isn’t assured, given the company’s difficulties in introducing a smartphone. But Samsung’s revamped software ambition is tied closely to its bigger goal of carving out a solid position in the era of the so-called Internet of Things, an idea in which many devices will come with Internet connectivity.

 

“We need an open ecosystem so that IoT devices can work together, and we need to collaborate across industries,” Mr. Yoon said during a keynote speech at CES on Monday. “Samsung is prepared to play a leading role.”

 

Samsung says it aims to enable Internet connectivity in all of its TVs by 2017 and expand connectivity to other consumer electronics within the next five years.

 

It hopes to spur a replacement cycle for TVs and home appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines by embedding more software functions that it hopes will help boost sales, which have been lackluster for several years. Samsung’s consumer-electronics business accounted for 24% of its total sales of 47.4 trillion won ($43 billion) in the third quarter of 2014, with mobile phones still making up the bulk.

 

But even Mr. Yoon expressed doubt about whether the company can generate a profit from these initiatives soon. “Everyone knows that a huge change is due when all things become connected and that relevant businesses will grow. But we don’t know how big that will be,” he said, forecasting fresh revenue streams from Samsung’s new Internet-connected devices in 2016 or 2017.

Analysts say Samsung can’t risk losing out on the opportunity to control its software and services.

 

“If they can’t do it internally, they have to do [mergers and acquisitions] or find a way to have software capabilities equipped,” said Lee Seung-woo, an analyst with IBK Securities in Seoul. “That’s the only way they will survive the looming change.”

 

Source: http://www.wsj.com/articles/samsung-electronics-to-launch-tizen-based-tvs-in-february-1420511402

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