I’m bringing into one post the topic that has had a sideline in my blog posts for a while: I said it in February 2016:
My stand has been (and will be) that Samsung will kill Tizen for smartphones before Microsoft kills Windows for smartphones. I don’t know if that will happen in 2016, 2017, 2018 or when…
…but it will happen before Microsoft does so.
I’ve said it before but at quick search I couldn’t find older version here or twitter so I’m using this one. Bear with me.
Now this forecast turned into a problem during all these years:
- Microsoft killed Windows Phone and replaced it with Windows 10 Mobile as part of their “one Windows” vision. Is that “Microsoft killing Windows for smartphones”? Most likely not.
- Microsoft told they will no longer make Lumia phones, but we got a phone manufactured by HP, running Windows 10 Mobile. Is that “Microsoft killing Windows for smartphones”? Most likely not.
- Microsoft told they will no longer develop new features for Windows 10 Mobile, but we hear repeated leaks about the possible Surface Phone running full scale Windows. Is that “Microsoft killing Windows for smartphones”? Probably still not.
Biggest issue here is that both operating systems (in smartphones) are basically nothing but announced dead. Sales numbers are somewhere within the rounding errors and no analyst house counts the sales for either platform. Still neither Samsung nor Microsoft has implied the mobile story of their OS has ended, because the OS is still in use on other devices. In case of Microsoft that is PC’s. In case of Samsung it’s TV’s, smart watches and alike.
So how do we define which OS died first if neither announces EOL but it becomes obvious in few years that nothing has happened on either platform?
In January 2017 I suggested that we should follow what is the latest device running the given OS so in the end we could just point out that “Phone X running operating system Y was the last device that was launched running either OS and therefore operating system Y died last“.
The runner-ups at that point were HP Elite X3 announced in July 2016 and Samsung Z2 Tizen Phone in August 2016. Here’s the list since:
- HP Elite X3, July 2016, Windows
- Samsung Z2, August 2016, Tizen
- Alcatel Idol 4S, November 2016, Windows
- Samsung Z4, May 2017, Tizen
- Alcatel Idol 4 Pro, July 2017, Windows (debatable, see below)
Alcatel Idol 4 Pro at the end of list should take Windows to the lead, but it is a good question if we can count it in. It is an European variant of the Alcatel Idol 4S, very much like Lumia 920T was a TD-SCDMA variant of the Lumia 920. Lumia 920T had same looks, display etc. and the difference was completely in the internal parts being different to support the TD-SCDMA networks. Equally the Idol 4 Pro also has all the variation inside the phone to match the European LTE bands.
We could consider them the same phone, but on the other hand it took whopping 8 months to get the Idol 4 Pro out so apparently it wasn’t a trivial task to produce the Euro variant.
To add more to the mixture: In the past Tomi Ahonen has said that “Nokia was able to become the world’s biggest handset maker – and the world’s biggest smartphone maker – by offering the widest range of handsets through the largest delivery channel, being on most networks of any handset brand” when he has talked about how good Nokia was prior to Elop.  When he did that he happily counted all those kind of variants into his “widest range of handsets” and had no problem with that.
(Of course he did not count Lumia 800C – the CDMA variant of Lumia 800 – as a one more model in the range of Lumia handsets but let’s not dwell too much in that one. 😉 )
This is a tricky situation that will have both camp Windows and camp Tizen to declare a victory. At least unless “Surface Phone” finally sees the daylight (which currently looks like will never happen). And please note that the Wileyfox Pro was already discussed in comments.
Let’s remember that no matter which device we count as last, there haven’t been new devices for either OS for over a year. That has never happened to either of the OSes and in smartphone world over a year is a lifetime. I promise to keep the list updated if there are any news but that is just for my own amusement. After all Tomi still in year 2015 forecasted that 400 million phones and tablets running Tizen will be shipped during year 2018 and 500 million during year 2020:
For the records: Samsung shipped 317 million smartphones – basically all running Android – during the full year 2017. Since Samsung is the sole Tizen manufacturer,
the 400M number requires increase in smartphone sales, increase in tablet sales and at the same time selling every single smartphone and tablet running Tizen.
I went through the tweet chain and it seems that althought Tomi’s tweet is direct (and first) reply to the question, Tomi is talking about IoT, bundling together phones, tablets, washing machines, refrigerators and so forth. So Tomi was not answering the question (but that is not news). For the amount of IoT devices running Tizen I have zero data, but Tomi has delivered on that too:
Although in Tomi’s old quarterly results Tizen was also supposed to be used by at least Huawei, Lenovo and “others” (sources here and here), I think it is safe to assume he talks about Samsung smartphone only.
That means Tomi in 2015 was still assuming Samsung will ship roughly 100 million to 150 million smartphones in 2018 (or 2020) running Tizen (number comes being 1/3rd to half of 300M they shipped in 2017).