Samsung’s Tizen Smartphone May Be Taking a Detour to Smaller Markets

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Samsung (SSNLF.PK), consistently the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer in terms of units sold, would seem to have a lot going for it, but in truth, it’s beset with problems. For one, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) still manages to pull in more money and is regularly on the legal offensive against the company, with some hefty victories already on its scorecard.

Another big problem is that it depends heavily on Google (NASDAQ:GOOG)(NASDAQ:GOOGL). Samsung’s popular phones gain some of their popularity because of the Android operating system running on them. And unfortunately, sales on the software do a lot more for Google than they do for Samsung. However, Samsung may soon have something to remedy at least this problem.

According to Wall Street Journal sources familiar with the matter, Samsung is nearing the premiere of its Tizen operating system on smartphones, and it’s not aiming for the markets everyone might expect. Samsung already has Tizen operating on some devices, such as the Gear 2 smartwatch, and it was expected to bring a smartphone running the operating system to market more than once in the past. But a deal with Japanese carrier DoCoMo (NYSE:DCM), among others, fell through, according to PCWorld.

Sources said to the Journal that Samsung would premiere a Tizen smartphone in or close to June, but it’s aiming for Russia and India. Though neither of these countries are the biggest consumers of smartphones, both present a special opportunity for  Tizen to flourish, and it’s precisely because residents there haven’t been such big smartphone consumers.

According to PCWorld, India and Russia are the world’s third- and eighth-largest smartphone markets, respectively. As India’s economy grows, it could leapfrog the U.S. to become second. The advantage these countries give Samsung is that they don’t already buy a lot of smartphones, and thus, consumers don’t have set loyalties to specific mobile operating systems.

Per PCWorld, Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston said: “We believe Samsung is taking a path of least resistance for Tizen. India and Russia are relatively open markets, where mobile operators have limited control over distribution channels. This makes it easier for Samsung to sell new Tizen Models.” So on top of not having to compete as much with the overwhelming popularity of Android and iOS in these countries, it will also have an easier time bringing the products to market.

Samsung already has brand recognition going for it in these regions, as its feature phones have been popular since well before it got involved with Google’s Android. If the devices are the right price, it may not matter to people whether it’s an Android, iOS, or Tizen smartphone.

So far the smartphone marketplace has seemed set nearly in stone, with iOS and Android not giving much room for competitors like Windows and Blackberry. Finding an inroad for Tizen through Russia and India may be the best move for Samsung, even if it is a bit of a detour.

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