Announcements this week mean we could see two new Linux players in the mobile operating system market. Samsung is to launch models running the Tizen system, while the people behind Ubuntu want to bring it to smartphones.
Tizen is a Linuz-based system that’s designed to work across a range of devices from smartphones and tablets to in-car entertainment and televisions. Both Intel and Samsung play a role in developing the system.
The Tizen project is what’s left over after the merger of several similar projects that developers decided were needlessly replicating efforts. It brings together a project called LiMo (Linux Mobile) and MeeGo, itself formed by a coming together of Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin.
Although it isn’t giving precise details, Samsung says it will launch multiple Tizen devices this year. Japanese newspaper reports suggest one handset will launch on local carrier NTT DoCoMo, which makes since given the network is another adviser on the Tizen project. Vodafone plays a similar role so would make an obvious carrier in markets such asEurope.
Meanwhile Canonical, the company that makes popular Linux system Ubuntu, is launching a version for smartphones and is on the lookout for manufacturers to use the system.
One of the main selling points is that the system works smoothly with the desktop Ubuntu. Not only does that mean it is easier for application developers to make software suitable for both computers and smartphones, but it will allow manufacturers to make a dock with screen, keyboard and mouse that can instantly transform the smartphone into a desktop computer.
The company also says developers will find it easy to take existing web applications, particularly those using HTML5, and transfer them to Ubuntu phones. That could be key in making the phones attractive enough to buyers that manufacturers think it worthwhile to adopt the system.