Smart TVs Won’t Make Tizen Mainstream

Smart TVs were one of the hot button items of the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show, with every vendor in the business bringing a selection of models to the show. Unlike the smartphone market, the OS market for smart TVs is highly fragmented with no single platform holding a dominant market share.

Samsung (KRX:005930) is pushing Tizen as its OS of choice for smart TVs. According to a recent report by The Korea Herald Samsung is planning to sell 30 million units of its Tizen-powered quantum-dot TVs in 2015, which would mean Tizen sets would account for half of all of Samsung’s TVs sold.

While on paper this might seem as if Samsung is giving Tizen the boost it needs to be a viable platform, Samsung will need to do more to push Tizen into the collective consciousness.

The strength of an OS is defined by the extensiveness and usefulness of its app library. This is why iOS and Android have succeeded while Windows Mobile has failed; the former has an an exhaustive selection of apps while users with Windows Mobile powered devices are left with pittance. However with smart TVs, this app-rule doesn’t exactly hold true. The most comprehensive market data on the subject from NPD shows that the vast majority of users only use video apps such as Netflix or Amazon Instant Video. Only 10% have used the web browser. Another study from early 2015 shows that gaming and social media usage on smart TVs is on the swift decline.

If Samsung is hoping that embedding Tizen into its smart TVs will be an effective stratagem to jump start the Tizen ecosystem, then it’s bound for failure. Tizen will have to be bundled on a mainstream phone with an aggressive price point for it to takeoff. Including the OS on wearables like the Gear has not worked, since the wearable ecosystem hasn’t proven to resonate at all with consumers. There’s certainly room for a viable competitor to Android in the smartphone market, and it’s up to Samsung to put in the effort to make this work.