Samsung to release first Tizen smartphone, the Z, in Russia in Q3

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Samsung Electronics will release the first commercial Tizen-based smartphone in Russia in the third quarter, but details on how Samsung will expand the launch beyond Russia as well as the future of the platform's reach remain unclear.

Samsung said the phone, the Samsung Z, will go on sale in Russia first and then expand to other markets, which it did not name. Samsung also did not disclose a price for the phone. Earlier this month the Wall Street Journal reported that Samsung would also bring the Tizen phone to India, but the timeline for that launch is not firm.

samsung z tizen
The Samsung Z

The Z represents Samsung's first recent step to branch out beyond using Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android platform and Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Phone. Samsung scrapped its homegrown bada platform in 2013 and folded those development efforts into Tizen. Since then, Samsung has put the Linux-based Tizen operating system into cameras and smart watches like its Galaxy Gear 2, but not into a smartphone--until now.

In an April interview with Reuters, Yoon Han-kil, senior vice president of Samsung's product strategy team, said Samsung would release a high-end Tizen phone in the second quarter, and then later will release a mid-range Tizen device aimed driving larger volumes.

Russia represents a unique market for Samsung to tap into, since, as the Journal noted, many phones there are sold through retail channels outside of traditional carriers. That could make it easier for Samsung to penetrate the market without coordinating with operators.

However, it's not clear that even Samsung, the world's largest smartphone maker, will have the wherewithal to make Tizen grab market share from Android or Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL) iOS. The platform does not have the millions of apps the other operating systems do.

The Z will be on show at the Tizen Developer Conference in San Francisco, which is taking place this week. Last week the Tizen Association announced 37 new partner members, though none are major mobile players. Samsung remains the staunchest support of Tizen among hardware OEMs. Other Tizen supporters include Intel, Huawei, ZTE, Orange and Vodafone, as well as Sprint (NYSE: S), though Sprint has not indicated when it might launch Tizen-based products.

The Z itself has a 4.8-inch 720p display, a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor and an 8-megapixel camera. Also, like Samsung's Android-based Galaxy S5, the gadget includes a fingerprint sensor and an "Ultra Power Saving Mode" that Samsung claims lets the phone stay operational even at minimal battery levels.

For more:
- see this Samsung post
- see this Reuters article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this separate WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this The Verge article

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