Samsung Electronics Co has sold 1 million Z1 smartphones that run on its Tizen operating system in less than six months of launch in India and plans to follow up with a Gold variant of the device next month and more models with its own OS at affordable prices this year.
The South Korean company took years to develop the operating system and introduced it with the Z1 in India in mid-January. Samsung said Z1’s growth in the competitive Indian market was on target and the new variant will have more games and messaging apps.
“It has been better than expectations for us,” said Asim Warsi, vice president for marketing, mobile and IT at Samsung India. “It stacks up equal and better with some of its neighbouring models in our portfolio.” Samsung has five models in the sub-$100 price band.
Z1 was launched for 5,700 and is available now for 5,000. The Gold variant will be similarly priced while the second model will be sold at the lower end of the affordable segment, which the industry classifies as the 8,000- 15,000 range.
Samsung will have to create an ecosystem of Tizen devices to generate higher interest in this OS, said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, which means a wide pool of applications for larger adoption among consumers. A roadmap for future devices that is critical for channel partners, distributors and retailers, must be provided as well.
Samsung’s Tizen offering is nowhere near dominating the Indian market, where about 2.8 million Android smartphones in sub-$100 category are shipped every month.
“Samsung’s Tizen-based device had garnered roughly 7% share of the smartphones market in the sub-$100 price band, which is a moderate achievement” in a crowded and competitive segment, said Jayanth Kolla, co-founder of telecom research firm Convergence Catalyst. In India, most smartphone shipments and sales are in low-cost or entry-level segment and the affordable category.
Warsi conceded Z1’s sales were “small,” although he said the device – on a new operating system that had no presence compared with the dominant Android – was a significant success for the firm.
Tizen-backed Z1 sales contributed to more than half of the 97% growth for Samsung in the under-$100 smartphone segment in January to April period, compared with the same period a year earlier, Warsi said, citing research firm GfK.
While overall smartphone market grew 30% by volume and 20% by value in the first four months of 2015, the sub-$100 segment expanded faster ” at a little over 40% by volume and 30% by value.
Warsi said the number of apps on the Tizen Store had doubled since January and more will be added after the Tizen Development Summit – to be held on July 30-31 in India where 800-1,000 app developers are being invited. He said the new models will come in at different price points and like their predecessors, will be made at Samsung’s factory in Noida.