Tizen stalled yet again as Samsung delays handset release

The sight of a Samsung-backed mobile operating system working on a widely-released handset is still one that exists purely in the imagination.

The release of a Tizen-powered smart watch earlier this year is increasingly looking like a good move on Samsung's part, otherwise one could easily doubt the existence of runnable Tizen code.

The announcement overnight from Samsung that it would shelve its Samsung Z Tizen-powered handset is the latest setback for an operating system with a troubled past.

"To further enhance Tizen ecosystem, Samsung plans to postpone the launch of Samsung Z in Russia," the Korean giant said in a statement. "Samsung will continue to actively work with Tizen Association members pursuing to further develop both Tizen OS and the Tizen ecosystem."

It's a baffling decision if Samsung is serious about using Tizen in the future. The best way to attract developers towards an ecosystem is to give them something to target -- holding back on the release of a device is the exact antithesis of how to grow a community.

There are other avenues for Tizen to see the light of day -- powering Samsung TVs, and potentially within vehicles -- but coupled with the retreat from Tizen by Japanese telco NTT Docomo in January, the future is looking rather bleak for a handset release.

Tizen is starting to look like the latest installment in the series of "well-meaning but eventually fruitless" projects to create a mobile Linux operating system beyond the sole control of Google. Although in the case of MeeGo, at least the Nokia N9 made it out the door before the executioner did his job.

The battle for fifth in the mobile market that I spoke about last year is, in essence, now down to two players, Firefox OS and Ubuntu Phone, but only the former has released devices.

Sailfish OS continues to remain an outlier and may provide the best blueprint of what to expect of the future of Tizen, with it having been relived from the ruins of MeeGo.

By Chris Duckett

Some would say that it is a long way from software engineering to journalism, others would correctly argue that it is a mere 10 metres according to the floor plan. During his first five years with CBS Interactive, Chris started his journalistic adven...