NTT DoCoMo puts Tizen phones on hold

The Japanese network operator says local market conditions aren't ripe for a third mobile OS

NTT DoCoMo has put on hold its plans to launch a smartphone with the new open-source Tizen mobile operating system, a spokesman said Friday.

"We're revising our plan to release it this fiscal year, but haven't decided to abandon it," said Jun Ootori, a spokesman for the Japanese telecommunications giant.

"The conditions surrounding the Japanese smartphone market and the timing aren't good right now," he added. "We haven't decided anything about the future but we are working with members of the (Tizen) association. We haven't decided on a launch."

Tizen is a Linux-based OS for smartphones, tablets, and other devices that has been seen as an alternative to Google's Android. It also has the backing of Intel and Samsung Electronics.

Android makes up a good chunk of the Japanese smartphone market, but it has been increasingly dominated by Apple's iOS, which is now carried by Japan's three cellphone carriers including KDDI and SoftBank.

NTT DoCoMo began carrying Apple phones in September 2013 with the launch of the iPhone 5C and 5S. The following month, some 76 percent of smartphones sold in Japan were iPhones, according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

The Tizen OS was shown off in 2013 at Mobile World Congress and has attracted support from dozens of tech giants including Panasonic, Sharp, and eBay.

But it has also faced headwinds. Before NTT DoCoMo put its Tizen phone launch on pause, French carrier Orange also shelved plans for a 2013 Tizen launch.

Samsung had said it was "committed to delivering the best mobile experience based on the open platform and a fully ready ecosystem around it."

However, http://www.pcworld.com/article/2081620/tizen-os-camp-to-show-newest-devices-at-mobile-world-congress.html">recent invitations from backers have prompted speculation that Samsung will demo a Tizen smartphone at this year's Mobile World Congress, to be held in Barcelona, Spain, from Feb. 24 to 27.

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Tim Hornyak

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