Samsung is reportedly planning to merge its proprietary Bada mobile operating system with the recently-announced open-source Tizen smartphone OS built by the Linux Foundation. The goal here is to develop cross-platform support for applications, such that Samsung will not be limited to either Bada or Android in building its mobile devices.
The Linux Foundation launched Tizen in September last year, with the intent of challenging Android. In particular Tizen wants to work around Android’s supposed intellectual property violations, with its Dalvik engine reportedly violating the GPL version 2 license by allowing proprietary and paid manufacturer add-ons.
Tizen takes its roots from MeeGo, which itself is a derivative of Linux developed by Intel and Nokia. Tizen heavily leans toward the use of HTML5 technologies in its rendering and application platform, which will be useful once developers start building cross-platform apps through HTML5. Samsung, however, maintains that focus on HTML5 does not only entail “slapping a web runtime on an existing Linux,” but rather “emphasising HTML5 means that APIs not visible to HTML5 programmers need not be as rigid, and can evolve with platform technology and can vary by market segment.”
At the very least, this move by Samsung is seen as a fallback, in case its relationship with Google goes south. Last year, Google acquired Motorola Mobility in a bid to enter the hardware market, and in an effort to improve its patent holdings. This might not bode well for other Android smartphone manufacturers, who are now essentially competing with Google itself. Still, Google and Samsung partnered with the search giant in its latest flagship Android Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.
Aside from Android and Bada, Samsung actually runs other smartphone operating systems, as well, including Windows Phone 7 in some high-end devices, and previously Symbian. Whether this merging results in the emergence of another major smartphone operating system, we have yet to see. But for now, iOS and Android still dominate the smartphone market, with everyone else lagging behind.
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