Tizen to merge with Samsung's Bada

The merger will jump-start app portfolios for both platforms

The story of Tizen has been a tumultuous one since its birth last year, but now the MeeGo-based OS is stepping up to the big leagues thanks to a planned merger with Samsung's popular Bada platform.

According to Forbes, Samsung will be merging Bada with Tizen, an offshoot of the MeeGo mobile operating system:

When the integration is finished, Tizen will support mobile applications written with Bada's SDK (software development kit). That support will include backwards compatibility for previously published Bada apps.

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Interestingly, that's almost exactly what MeeGo News' Steve Paine predicted would happen last September, which I pointed out at the time:

A company like Samsung would be the biggest win possible for Intel if they could just convince Samsung to break out a new range of Bada phones, based on a MeeGo core, and Intel hardware with Intel value-add silicon and services.

"MeeGo has been well designed as a smartphone core. How about the Bada brand and [user interface] on a MeeGo core? Remember, MeeGo really is just a core with a UI framework," Paine wrote.

And with the news coming out of Samsung, that appears to be exactly what has happened. The only difference from Paine's prognostications is that MeeGo was transformed into the Tizen Project. Officially, MeeGo and Tizen exist as separate projects, each stewarded by the Linux Foundation. The Samsung-sponsored Tizen is shifting towards HTML5-oriented application, while MeeGo remains focused on native applications.

Even though the two projects do co-exist, Tizen is widely regarded as being the successor of MeeGo.

The planned merger might not seem like a big deal, but it does lend Tizen (and MeeGo before it) quite a bit of street cred in the mobile sector. While many North Americans are not familiar with Bada, the fact is the platform sold better than Windows Phone 7 on the global market last year.

The merger of the two Linux-based operating systems means that all of those Bada developers will now have access to Tizen's interface and HTML5-friendly APIs. It also means that Samsung, one of the world's biggest smartphone manufacturers, will have a powerful and flexible operating system that will fit well on higher- and lower-end devices.

That's because Tizen should be able to run the native Bada apps as a bootstrap of an application collection when the merger is complete. And with HTML5, Tizen could pick up HTML5 apps from wherever it wants. After all, HTML5 is standards-based, so an HTML5 app developed for one mobile platform would look and act the same when used for another HTML5 platform. A Tizen/Bada merged platform would have access to almost any HTML5 app in the ecosystem, thus negating the problems of the old app-hobbled MeeGo and giving Bada a much bigger apps gallery.

How will this complete with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone? Like most things in mobile space, it will depend on how Samsung plays it. It's going to take a lot of apps to compete in the Android/iOS space, but the HTML5 capability may jumpstart Samsung's app gallery to make a dent. The final interface will make some difference, too, but as Windows Phone developers is learning, a snazzy interface isn't the be-all-end-all. The hardware will make a bigger impact ... and Samsung has a history of making some nice devices.

The legacy of MeeGo is not finished yet, and while this branch may vanish within a Bada merger, it's nice to know that the work of those early Moblin, Maemo, and MeeGo developers is about to pay off in the marketplace.

Read more of Brian Proffitt's Open for Discussion blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Drop Brian a line or follow Brian on Twitter at @TheTechScribe. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

This story, "Tizen to merge with Samsung's Bada" was originally published by ITworld.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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