Why IT should keep an eye on Samsung Tizen

Consumers and devs might find Samsung Tizen interesting, but it could be a different story for IT pros who are already juggling a lot of mobile OSes.

If Samsung Tizen is anything like the company's Galaxy line of mobile devices, it could take off in a hurry, and IT departments should be ready.

Samsung is the leading manufacturer of devices that run Google's Linux-based Android operating system, and now the company is coming out with its own open source OS, Tizen. The strategy of manufacturing hardware and creating the OS that runs on it has had some mixed results. Obviously, Apple has done well in creating a seamless experience, but Palm and BlackBerry offer more cautionary tales. If Tizen does well, it's another mobile OS that IT administrators will have to manage, and the details on how admins will be able to do that have yet to emerge.

Who should care about Samsung Tizen?

The first Galaxy phone hit the market in 2009, and it wasn't until 2011 when Samsung took off as the leading Android manufacturer. Now that Samsung has some weight to throw around, deploying a new OS could be a fruitful move, but that depends on developer, consumer and IT adoption.

Tizen might be intriguing to developers if they can easily build apps for both Android and Tizen. On the other hand, if developing apps for Tizen requires more effort than just tweaking an Android app, I would think twice about developing for it before it takes off. One exciting point is that Tizen supports HTML5, which allows developers to write an application and maintain compatibility across any browser. The concept of developing apps for multiple platforms is enticing, but it still seems far away from offering the same experience as native apps.

As a consumer it could also go either way. I would earn some geek points for adopting the "latest and greatest" OS right away, and you can bet that Samsung will put Tizen on one of its flagship devices.

As an IT pro in an organization, I see Tizen as one more OS to pile onto the stack. It could very well carry some security features such as Samsung for Enterprise and KNOX out of the box, but it's still another mobile OS to worry about and potentially manage. It took most mobile device management (MDM) companies between six months and a year to offer at least partial integration with the Windows mobile OSes, but IT can assume that because Tizen is open source, it may not take as long to integrate with MDM.

One Tizen feature is that it works with machine-to-machine and wearable technology, so IT has to worry about how to manage that. Imagine if a car, a watch and the display on a golf cart all ran Tizen and you were able to check your corporate email on each. It sounds pretty good, but I am not sure how IT would manage all those endpoints.

When is Tizen coming?

Tizen has yet to be announced by a carrier in the U.S., but Sprint is one of the companies that is contributing to Tizen's development. Samsung is also looking for developers to offer a significant number of apps to the Samsung App Store.

I don't recommend hiring a litany of developers to create apps for Tizen devices or incorporating Tizen into your approved OS list for 2014. But I would  start keeping track of the news to find out when Tizen devices will arrive in the U.S.

This was first published in November 2013

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