Forward Looking: Tizen the 3rd Mobile Phone Operating System (OS)

China has over 1.3 billion people. If Pacific Asia and South East Asia are included, the market for smartphone is immense. The rise of individual income in this region and the dropping prices have made these devices more affordable. As well, with over the top (OTT) services like WhatsApp, WeChat, QQ and the likes that allow ease of communication have only fuel more demand for these devices.

Here are snippets of facts and trends on the region’s mobile market.

  • 78% increase in sales year-over-year in South East Asia according GfK research.
  • Smartphone prices are dropping below $100 USD per unit.
  • Two of the top three smartphone manufacturers are from this region (1st. Samsung, 2nd Apple and 3rd Huawei)
  • Android OS overtook BlackBerry’s OS in Indonesia
  • iPhone is 6th place in China’s mobile market  (1st to 6th - Samsung, Lenovo, Coolpad, ZTE Corp., Huawei Technologies Co. and Apple). Yes, Lenovo makes smartphones and they are pretty good. Source – DailyTech

What happens in this area in the next 5 years will have an impact on the global mobile industry. What’s important is what OS will these Asian manufacturers push in the next five years?

It’s clear today that Android OS (3 out 4 devices shipped in 3Q12 are Android OS powered – IDC) has won the smartphone OS market and iOS is second.

But what about the 3rd OS? Microsoft wants to be the 3rd OS but I believe it’s a tough road for them given the recent sales performance of Windows 8 in the mobile space. I think only targeting the premium market is not helpful to expand its market share. In China, Microsoft (Nokia), is just not a big deal. For status, Chinese people buy iPhone. For anything else, it’s Android. Microsoft does not have the status of Apple to command premium pricing. People use Windows on their crappy PC so it’s very hard for them to associate Windows as a premium OS. It’s hard for me too.

Currently, BlackBerry OS is in 3rd place but its position is tenuous because newer users are opting for other mobile devices. It’s not hip. It’s a boring business device. What’s brewing is Tizen OS. Huawei, Samsung and Intel are championing this open source OS. Samsung makes a lot of mobile phones and combine with Huawei, they make about 40% (~32% Samsung, ~8% Huawei) of smartphone devices in the world. Both of these manufactures have a big presence in China, Pacific Asia and South East Asia. They have the distribution channels to push their products.

These companies will start making and pushing devices with Tizen OS soon — starting 2013, Samsung will start producing devices based on this OS. With Samsung’s S Cloud push to support their mobile devices, Tizen OS will have a strong backend support. Being the 3rd mobile OS is achievable within 5 years.