Rumor Mill: Samsung to release first Tizen phone in Russia, India

Samsung Electronics is aiming to release its first smartphone running the Tizen operating system in Russia and India, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The report, citing unnamed sources, said that the phone that will be unveiled in Russia will be announced similar to how Samsung unwraps its flagship devices, and that the launch event will take place around the same time as a Tizen developer conference in early June in San Francisco. Samsung also is close to releasing a Tizen phone in India, the report added.

Samsung did not respond to a request for comment and the Tizen Association declined to comment, according to the report.

The timing is not exactly a surprise. 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.

Samsung has repeatedly delayed the release of Tizen smartphones. The open-source Tizen platform could give Samsung an opportunity to get more revenue from third-party applications and services, but it is also an incredibly small ecosystem compared to Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android platform. Samsung is using Tizen, and not Android, for the second version of its Galaxy Gear smart watch and other new wearables.

The launch markets of Russia and India are not that surprising. Samsung executives have telegraphed that they would not focus a Tizen phone on developed, Western markets, where its Galaxy brand of Android phones is already strong and where there are established competitors.

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 Tizen Association is an open-source group that was created through the merger of the former MeeGo and LiMo platforms. 

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this CNET article

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Report: Sprint, DoCoMo and other carriers back away from Samsung's Tizen
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