How do you know when a company pulled off a successful product announcement? When we know pretty much everything they’ll announce beforehand yet still come away impressed. That was the case for Samsung yesterday. They announced the Galaxy S4 at one of the most highly anticipated mobile events of the young year. The S4 isn’t revolutionary by any means, but the reception was mostly positive.
In other words, Samsung has won over the market — or at least the tech media portion of the market. The S4 will likely dominate the Android smartphone market, just as its Galaxy predecessors. That comes as little surprise. Even as other manufacturers aim for the top of the market — LG with the Optimus G and HTC with the HTC One — it is pretty apparent that Samsung will continue its reign over the Android world. But that might not be the most interesting thing Samsung has going for it these days.
We live in a duopolistic mobile world. You’re either on iOS, or you’re on Android. There are a few stragglers here and there, people who prefer BlackBerry for its messaging and enterprise features, and those who are jumping on the Windows Phone bandwagon. But the represent a tiny fraction of the overall mobile market. In 2013 we know we’re going to see a number of additional competitors. There’s a decent chance that one of them catches on as a serious third alternative. One of the more intriguing entrants is Linux-based Tizen.
Samsung already hinted that it would release a Tizen-based handset in 2013, but yesterday we got a little closer to an actual date. They will launch a Tizen phone in Q3, which really isn’t all that far away at this point. It should come right around the time Apple announces its latest iPhone, which will make for an interesting juxtaposition. How will the newest entrant fare with the gold standard for smartphone platforms?
Chances are it won’t stack up well compared to iOS or Android, but we can at least get a glimpse of what it might become. After all, Android wasn’t exactly the most exciting OS when it debuted in 2008. When the iPhone debuted in 2007 it was little more than a big idea for the future — there was no App Store, remember. But both showed huge future potential, and both delivered.
(And yes, this is a subtle hint that I’m not convinced of the future potential for either Windows Phone or BlackBerry.)
A new platform launch isn’t big news on its own. Many will try, and most will fail. But that Samsung, the world’s No. 1 smartphone manufacturer, is on board gives Tizen weight that other platforms lack. Their dominance gives them the ability to take such a risk. It’s not as though they’re going anywhere with Android; think of Tizen as a side project of sorts. Could Samsung turn full-time to Tizen if it works out? Sure. But if it’s another flash in the pan, Samsung will always have Android.