Samsung to launch Tizen OS phone in 2013; DoCoMo plans to sell it

The South Korean electronics giant said it will launch a Tizen smartphone in the second half of this year

Samsung Electronics is readying a smartphone based on the Tizen operating system to be released in the second half of this year, it said Friday.

It has already found a customer: NTT DoCoMo, Japan's largest mobile carrier, plans to launch a Tizen-based Samsung handset on its network by the end of the year, a spokesman for the carrier said.

Samsung's email confirming its plans for Tizen came a few hours after it announced its new flagship Galaxy 4 handset, which runs Android but has been tweaked to support new features such as a dual-camera feature and language translation.

Tizen is an open source, Linux-based alternative to the Android mobile operating system, and will add to the growing number of fledgling alternatives to Android and iOS on the market.

Samsung already has built devices that run on Android, Windows Phone, and its in-house operating system, Bada, which has failed to catch on with users. The company has stressed that it is not looking to cut ties with Google's Android, but like other manufacturers is growing increasingly dependent on the search giant's software to drive its phones.

Tizen is backed by the Tizen Association, whose members include handset manufacturers Samsung, Fujitsu and Panasonic, carriers DoCoMo, Orange, and Vodafone, and chip maker Intel.

The group last month released a software development kit and source code for a new version of the operating system. Tizen 2.0 includes a Web UI framework, software interfaces for hardware such as Bluetooth and NFC (near-field communications) and core features including phone, calendar and a video player functions.

Tizen relies on the web platform HTML5 for application development, with the idea that developers won't have to recode their apps for the operating system. Quickly drawing developers to roll out interesting apps will be a major factor in drawing users to the platform.

The operating system is one of several new challengers to the existing duopoly of Android and iOS. In addition to Windows Phone and Blackberry OS, open source offerings from Firefox and Ubuntu are also in the works.

In Japan, carrier KDDI has said it is considering launching phones that run the Firefox operating system.

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