Why Samsung’s phones will always run someone else’s software

This past weekend, reports out of Korea suggested that Samsung is thinking about Windows Phone on its handsets, particularly at the low end. I can see it happening, since most of Samsung’s bigger name competitors have gone all-in on Android.

Samsung Galaxy S5 in blue

According to the Korea Times, whose sources say that Windows Phone is appealing to Samsung again, the company has to work out some currently pending suits with Microsoft before it creates more Windows Phone handsets. Said a Samsung official to the Korea Times:

If the companies settle their litigation, then Samsung will manufacture handsets powered by the Microsoft-developed mobile platform. The timing could be the third quarter of this year at the earliest.

Assuming this information is accurate, that means no new [company]Microsoft[/company] Windows Phones from Samsung for at least six months, although we’d likely hear or see some leaked information on such devices before then.

Samsung Ativ SE

The situation, in combination with Samsung’s announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show last week and Microsoft’s Windows Phone licensing changes, has me thinking that Samsung’s many efforts to break out with its own mobile platform for handsets may finally be over.

Let’s face it: Tizen phones have been discussed and delayed over the past few years. Sure, it’s an open-source platform that might have community appeal, but guess what: We’ve had an open-source platform like that since 2008. It’s called Android. And it has been Android that built Samsung’s market share in smartphones from practically nothing in 2010 to the top spot around the world today.

At this point, Tizen seems far better suited for Samsung’s internet of things play, as the underlying connecting software between devices that could even run some apps specific to the platform. Indeed, Samsung announced last week that its Smart TVs will run on Tizen going forward. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Tizen is used in some form for Samsung appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators, for example.

Samsung keynote CES 2015

But as a smartphone platform? Not at this point. [company]Google[/company] Android and [company]Apple[/company] iOS have far more attention from both consumers and developers. Windows Phone and even [company]BlackBerry[/company] likely have more appeal. Put another way: How many people do you know who want yet another smartphone software alternative? My guess is not many. And if you ask developers, I’m sure even fewer of them want yet another smartphone platform to code, test and support.

That’s why I’m not surprised that after being a lukewarm at best Windows Phone partner — Samsung has barely released any handsets using Microsoft’s mobile software — the company is reconsidering. The idea that Samsung will have its own software on a significant number of phones at this point seems more like a pipe dream.

Perhaps the company will prove me wrong, but I’m putting a fork in Tizen smartphones: They’re done.