While mobile operating systems from Google and Apple rule the smartphone market today, an underdog backed by Samsung and Intel is expected to start mounting fierce competition this year.
Samsung plans to release its first phones based on the Tizen platform later this year. The Korean giant's marketing muscle should help propel the open-source software into the mainstream. And because Tizen devices are expected to be cheaper than popular models like the iPhone, they should appeal to consumers in developing markets, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.
"Asian mobile operators are very unhappy," Joshua Flood, an analyst at ABI Research, said in an interview. "They want handsets to be as cheap as possible. This is basically pushing the handset prices down."
Tizen is set to become the sixth-largest mobile operating system in the world this year, according to a report released today by ABI, a technology research firm. That still puts Tizen behind Android, iOS, Symbian, BlackBerry and Windows.
But that's just the beginning. Over the next five years, Tizen's installed base will reach 3.3 percent of all smartphone shipments, up from 0.3 percent this year, ABI estimates.
As operating systems like BlackBerry continue to bleed market share that could give Tizen just the opening it seeks to move up the rankings.