Samsung repurposes Tizen smartphone OS for smart TVs

Korean electronics giant Samsung has pre-empted the official start of CES next week by announcing its 2015 line of smart TVs will run Tizen, an operating system it had originally intended for smartphones.

Samsung’s move follows the apparent success of LG’s smart TV range, which now runs on another repurposed mobile OS – webOS – acquired on the cheap after HP continued its tradition of abortive acquisitions and failed to do anything with Palm. Mobile Oss, it seems, serve rather well as smart TV platforms too.

The appeal of using a distinct OS, rather than, say, Android, is that it creates the opportunity for the likes of Samsung and LG to develop their own digital TV ecosystems. Tizen originated from Samsung’s desire to be less dependent on Google for its smartphone offerings, but the company seems to have quite sensibly concluded end-users have little appetite for another smartphone platform.

TVs, however, remain a technology distinct from the smartphone. Yes, the two can increasingly interact, but the demand for your TV to run on the same platform your phone seems no greater than it is for PCs. Tizen is based around Linux and is open source, so it’s safe to assume there will be a fair bit of compatibility with Linux-based, open source Android.

“Building our Smart Platform around Tizen is a groundbreaking step towards a much more intelligent and integrated system,” said Won Jin Lee, EVP of the Visual Display Business at Samsung Electronics. “Tizen not only enriches the entertainment experience for our customers today, but unlocks great potential for the future in home entertainment.”

Clearly compatibility with mobile devices (especially Samsung ones) is a big reason for this move, and was a focus for the corresponding Samsung announcement. “Another important update to the system is how easily the TV now syncs with other devices,” it said. “Using Wi-Fi Direct, content is seamlessly shared from a mobile device to a TV and vice-versa with just one click. With Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Samsung’s Smart TV software automatically searches for Samsung mobile devices nearby and connects to them.”

IoT will once more be a big theme at this year’s CES, but progress has been slow. What we are seeing, however, is ‘smartness’ being introduced to an increasing number of other electronic devices. While Samsung and LG have their own smart TV platforms, 2015 may well see Google give TV another go, probably in partnership with one or more other TV vendors, and maybe Apple will finally take the plunge too.

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