Are the smartphone wars between iOS and Android, or Apple and Samsung? Android powers Samsung's wildly successful Galaxy phones, but Samsung is also the only Android manufacturer seeing big profits. The Korean company may be wondering the same thing, as it's reportedly testing the waters with a smartphone based on the Tizen OS.
According to Daily Yomiuri, Samsung will launch its first Tizen-based smartphone sometime in 2013. Details are scant beyond that, but Samsung (along with Intel) is part of the platform's Technical Steering Group. The open-source Tizen is Linux-based, and a member of the Linux Foundation.
Who needs who?
It would be shocking if Samsung threw its full marketing prowess behind its initial Tizen device, but the move does raise questions about its long-term relationship with Google. Samsung already has a Windows Phone 8 device in the pipeline, and Google is reportedly throwing its weight behind a new Motorola flagship. Perhaps neither company is comfortable putting all of its eggs in one basket, and is taking precautionary measures.
If Samsung senses that its Galaxy brand is bigger than Android's, then the Korean manufacturer could eventually branch out on its own. It could go the Amazon route, and release a Galaxy Android phone without Google apps (Play Store, Maps, etc.), or it could drop Android altogether and focus on Tizen.
Both moves would be far too risky in 2013 (ask Apple how easy it is to build your own mapping service). But if Samsung spends years investing in Tizen, building third-party app support, it could potentially shift the Galaxy brand away from Android.
Back to the present
These, however, are potential long-term strategies. In the near-term, expect to see a low-to-mid range Tizen-powered Samsung handset. It could make an appearance at the Mobile World Congress in February, but no dates are confirmed. Samsung's Galaxy S IV, meanwhile, should be exactly what you'd expect: a high-end Android phone chock-full of Google apps.