Meet Tizen, the mobile OS that could complicate BYOD

Just as many companies are starting to allow iOS and Android devices to connect to their network, along new entrant comes along. Resistance may be futile

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The IT industry is abuzz about Tizen, a forthcoming smartphone operating system (OS) based on Linux, the open-source OS, that is poised to compete with Apple, Google and BlackBerry for mobile market share. While Tizen could give smartphone users more choice, it also could give IT decision makers cause to worry about their organizations’ mobile technologies.

What’s Tizen all about? The OS certainly seems to have plenty of momentum. Big tech firms including Intel and Samsung are driving the OS’s development. Earlier this summer, they announced an app challenge that offers developers $4 million in prizes for the best Tizen software programs.

ABI Research market analyst Joshua Flood notes that communications service providers support Tizen, in part because the new OS comes with an app ecosystem that could enable carriers to get paid for the apps people use on the Tizen OS. Carriers receive no compensation from the Android and iOS app platforms.

Flood predicts Samsung will release its first Tizen smartphone as early as August. He also figures Tizen will become the fifth most popular mobile OS in the world, chasing iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.

In fact, Tizen is just one of a few new smartphone OSes heading our way. Developers also are working on an Ubuntu-based OS, and Spanish communications service provider Telefonica has started selling the ZTE Open, a smartphone that uses a mobile Firefox variant.

These new entrants mean smartphone shoppers will have more device options, yet more choice could spell additional headaches for IT managers—especially those in closed mobile shops.

Open up

Many organizations now support iOS and Android devices, because users demanded the ability to use iPhones and Android-based smartphones for work. But that doesn’t mean these companies are ready for Tizen and other upcoming alternatives. As CITE World blogger Nancy Gohring says in a recent post, “in some regards the current environment can be as limited as it was before. Now instead of BlackBerry and Windows Mobile, businesses support iOS and Android, and possibly but not always, a third… That’s because with limited resources IT departments prioritize for the platforms with the most users.”

Gohring goes on to say that organizations would be wise to ensure their mobile systems are open to all sorts of devices, in case Tizen or another new OS becomes users’ operating system of choice. If businesses develop their internal apps such that employees can access the software via web browsers, for instance, anyone using any kind of smartphone will be able to use the programs.

Embrace BYOD

Flood echoes that point. He points out that a flurry of new OS options shouldn’t bother IT managers whose companies have fully embraced BYOD. Their systems accommodate multiple smartphone operating systems already, so if half the staff switches to Tizen, the IT department won’t have to revise the entire enterprise mobile infrastructure to support them.

Fortunately for companies that haven’t yet migrated to BYOD, there’s still time to get ahead of Tizen. “It isn’t going to be an issue until Tizen reaches market share such that a significant number of people are bringing Tizen phones to the workplace,” Flood says in a phone interview. For the moment, iOS and Android continue to dominate the mobile OS market.

That said, organizations might want to review their mobile support mechanisms so they’re ready for a wave of interest in any new OS.

Learn about how Allstream started addressing consumer technologies in the workplace by downloading the executive brief on BYOD

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