London-based agency SomeOne has created an unusual set of branding elements for Linux-for-TVs-and-tablets platform Tizen. While there's the usual mix of logo and graphics for use in print and digital forms, the assets are designed to be open-source like the platform itself - so instead of there being a fixed brandbook, device developers and manufacturers are invited to remix them to fit their needs.
"People can take it apart, use bits of it, change it and make it adapt to their specific needs, wants and whims," says SomeOne's founder and creative director Simon Manchipp in an email. "We created a multitude of brand assets for people to choose from. It can do as much or as little as you like."
Tizen is a Linux-based open-source operating system and software platform backed by Samsung, Intel and other vendors. The software is intended for use in devices such as smartphones, tablets, netbooks, in-vehicle infotainment devices, and smart TVs.
The latest code release shows that Tizen is getting closer to a usable product. In September, the Wi-Fi Alliance published a document certifying that a Samsung smartphone named the "GT-I9300_TIZEN" had passed Wi-Fi interoperability testing, according to a copy of the document in Google's cache. GT-i9300 is the model name Samsung gives to Galaxy S3 smartphones, all of which currently run Android, indicating that Samsung might be working on a Galaxy S3 variant that runs Tizen.
Back then, Samsung did not comment on its plans for Tizen, and the Wi-Fi Alliance certificate has been modified since its initial publication, now listing the smartphone as the GT-I9300Z.
The Tizen 2.0 alpha release provides developers with the Tizen kernel, device drivers, middleware subsystems, and Web APIs, necessary to develop future Tizen-compliant software, according to the source code release page.
The latest release, for instance, adds advanced HTML5 features such as video subtitles and captions and a battery status application programming interface, the steering group wrote. A multi-process Webkit2-based Web Runtime was also added to provide better security and reliability for Web applications, the team announced among other improvements.
The steering group is planning to add additional components in the coming weeks and is planning to make additional enhancements to the Tizen OS "over the coming months" based on feedback from developers. The alpha 2.0 source code release follows a preview release of the OS source code last January.
The first products running Tizen will probably be launched early next year, says analyst Geoff Blaber of CCS Insight. Tizen is a strategic operating system for Samsung, he said. The mobile phone manufacturer is fast becoming a platform company and it is highly undesirable for a big player like that to rely so much on Google's Android operating system as it does now, he added.
But Tizen is a long-term effort for Samsung and won't replace Android anytime soon, Geoff says. "They are not going to drop Android over night. Tizen is still a highly immature operating system."
Samsung will need to attract developer interest to make worthwhile applications for Tizen, and needs to interest mobile phone operators to sell smartphones running the new operating system, says Francisco Jeronimo, research manager at IDC. Besides that, Tizen is not known by customers, he adds. "Most operators currently concentrate on Windows Phone," he said. Another problem is that Tizen will never get anywhere if Samsung is the only manufacturer making Tizen devices, he says.
To make Tizen work, the project needs to be directed by one vendor and not by more, says Francisco. Android is a good example of this, it works because Google is the one big power that gives direction to the project.
Tizen, however, is led by Samsung and Intel who both have different interests, Geoff says. "Intel wants to have its chips used in Tizen devices," agrees Francisco, "but Samsung uses Qualcomm and Snapdragon chips."
Differences between the two companies have to be resolved if Tizen wants to succeed. "One vendor needs to set the agenda," says Francisco, adding that he knew no successful case where more vendors tried to develop a mobile OS together.