Is the Samsung Z smartphone just delayed -- or doomed?

Samsung says it's waiting to enhance the Tizen ecosystem

The launch of the Samsung Z, the first smartphone to run the Tizen OS for commercial use, will be delayed, with no release date given by Samsung.

Samsung Z
The 4.8-in. Samsung Z smartphone has been delayed.

The reason for the delay isn't entirely clear. Two analysts suggested that the smartphone could well be doomed.

The company, in a short statement to IDGNS and others on Monday, said only that more time is needed to "enhance the Tizen ecosystem" before releasing the smartphone. That's a reference to Samsung's desire to beef up the number of apps running on the OS.

In June, Samsung said the device, which features a 4.8-in. HD display device and a 2.3 GHz Quad-core application processor, would run the open source Tizen 2.2.1. It was pegged for release in the third quarter in Russia, with plans to expand to other markets.

Reports citing unnamed sources said that the Samsung Z won't be available until sometime next year, but Samsung didn't comment. The Tizen Association also did not comment on the delay or on any future plans for it.

The device was put on display at the Tizen Developer Conference in San Francisco on June 3, but then pulled from its launch on July 11 at an event in Moscow that drew 150 Tizen developers. According to TechRadar, a Samsung official at the Moscow event told Tizen app developers they could get a priority advantage in a "half empty [Tizen] store" for a "decent premium device."

Indeed, the Samsung Z, as first introduced, has good hardware, with a built-in fingerprint sensor and an ultra-power saving mode along with 2GB RAM, 16GB of internal storage and a microSD slot to support up to 64GB of additional storage.

But quality smartphone hardware won't make up for what has been a disappointing Tizen OS. The Z was first supposed to debut at Mobile World Congress in late February but did not.

At that event, two Tizen-based smartwatches, the Gear 2 and Gear 2 Neo were introduced and then launched in April. But there are fewer than 50 apps, which primarily run on an Android-based Samsung phone like the Galaxy S5. After the release of the Tizen-based smartwatches, Samsung released an Android Wear OS smartwatch, the Samsung Galaxy Gear.

Samsung's foray into Tizen has long been considered Samsung's primary effort to separate itself from Google and the Android ecosystem, which limits what Samsung can do to customize its phones to get the full financial benefit from apps.

Google and Samsung are publicly cordial about their relationship, even though analysts report there is great tension privately over Android. At Google I/O on June 25, Google announced that the next Android version, dubbed 'L', will launch in the fall with enterprise-focused management and security features. Samsung had been focusing on similar software for two years under the Samsung Knox name.

Google publicly thanked Samsung for its contribution of Knox software to all of Android. "We really want to thank Samsung for [carrying over] Knox to all of Android," Google executive Sundar Pichai said in a keynote address. "There will be one consistent experience."

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