Starting up a new mobile platform is surely a challenge now that incumbents iOS and Android have such a strong following. The biggest obstacle could be finding developers to write applications for an emerging system. But OpenMobile might give hope to Tizen, one of the newest operating systems for smartphones and tablets: Using OpenMobile’s software, Tizen devices can run native Android applications as shown in this video captured by the Handheld Blog.
If this approach sounds familiar, that’s because Research In Motion is trying the same with its BlackBerry PlayBook but in a limited fashion. In February of this year, RIM added support to run a limited number of Android applications approved by RIM for its tablet. OpenMobile is a similar solution that hardware makers can add to their devices in order to boost the number of potential mobile apps the handset or tablet can run. The company calls it an ACL, or Application Compatibility Layer, that enables 400,000 Android apps to run as if they were on an Android device.
That’s potentially a big boon for Tizen, which is a software project backed by Samsung and Intel. Like Google Android, Tizen is a free and open source mobile operating system based on Linux and formed mainly from an older effort called MeeGo. A wide variety of apps could help give Tizen appeal to consumers and carriers alike; leveraging Google Android apps, but freeing Samsung and Intel from using Android itself. That gives companies involved with Tizen more control over their devices, and therefore their destiny in the mobile space. Note that Samsung built up its own Bada platform over the past two years, but is now merging Bada with Tizen.
There’s no indication that Tizen devices will actually use OpenMobile’s solution at this point, however if the first Tizen devices don’t appeal due to a lack of available apps, I could easily envision Samsung chatting with OpenMobile. It may actually make more sense to buy the company outright; especially if Samsung wants a backup plan to using Android on future devices.
Yes, Android-powered handsets from Samsung have proven highly successful — the company recently passed Apple to take the top smartphone sales spot — but with its own platform, it could reduce its reliance upon Google while also differentiating itself from other Android equipment makers. To do that, at least initially, it will need an application ecosystem though. Why not use Android’s for now? That seems to be a helpful strategy for Amazon’s Kindle Fire so far.