New year, same story from Samsung when targeting the developer community.
Anyone following along with Samsung's Developer Conference (or any trade show where Samsung is represented, actually) is seeing a lot of the word "Tizen" mentioned — TVs, cars, appliances and the whole Internet of Things are running on it. As faithful Android observers, we sometimes have a visceral negative reaction to the word, as if Samsung saying "Tizen" automatically means that Android is no longer in the picture.
But despite Tizen's prominence as Samsung's operating system of choice for all sorts of devices across its company, Android is still in the picture in a very big way.
Android isn't going anywhere
Look, Samsung is a big company. No, scratch that — a huge multinational conglomerate company. Samsung has more engineers in its R&D department working on washing machines than other mobile companies have on their whole worldwide staff; and with that scale comes plenty of possibility for diversification. Every time you hear a mention of Samsung working on Tizen, remember that no single edict reaches throughout the whole company — there are plenty of people still around working very hard every single day on Android software and devices. Thousands, surely.
There's no reason to jeopardize a $6 billion business by switching to a new OS.
Taking the stage today at the opening keynote of SDC 2016, Samsung Mobile's head of R&D, Injong Rhee, very prominently explained Samsung's commitment to Android. A big slide remained on-screen reminding developers that Android commands 80% of the smartphone market and there are millions of developers writing apps for the platform. And yes, Samsung is very much convinced that it is making the best smartphones around — and that's not limited to just hardware, it's all of the software it has spent millions of dollars creating.
And despite increased competition from Chinese companies that are growing quickly with agile development strategies, Samsung isn't backing down from the Android world. For years now Samsung has offered the top-selling Android phone model around the world, and is far and away the biggest single seller of Android phones. There's no reason to throw that away by moving to a different operating system.
But Tizen is Samsung's future beyond phones
But for as much as Samsung understands and leverages the power of Android, it knows that Android isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for everything it wants to do. When it comes to launching and supporting an extremely diverse set of products — which includes TVs, refrigerators, street lamps and shipping containers, among other things — Android isn't necessarily always the solution. For Samsung, having a light, simple and malleable operating system that can run on just about any type of hardware and power a vast ecosystem without the support or direction of any other company is extremely valuable.
Android isn't a one-size-fits-all solution.
And as we've established, Samsung has the size and resources to build something itself when it sees a need. In this case, Tizen is the platform it has built up to work exactly the way it wants. When you're a company the size of Samsung with ambitions to match, you build Tizen and bring everyone else to you as a platform — you don't build your whole company on someone else's platform.
Here's the thing, though: just because Samsung is selling 20 million (and growing) TVs every year with Tizen as the operating system doesn't mean that the Galaxy S8 (or S9, or whatever) isn't going to be running Android. This is a big company, and one that can absolutely handle running multiple operating systems at once. To think otherwise is to dramatically underestimate the power of a company the size of Samsung, and misunderstand the importance of building on your strengths.