NTT DoCoMo puts Tizen phone plans on ice

Tizen, a well-backed would-be rival to Android and iOS, has hit a snag after Japan's NTT Docomo dropped plans to launch a device running the Linux-based platform.

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Japan's largest carrier NTT Docomo has put its plans to launch a Tizen smartphone on hold, claiming the Japanese market isn't ready for a third mobile operating system yet.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal today, NTT DoCoMo's decision will be a blow to Samsung, one of the main backers of the Linux-based Tizen, the OS that supporters are hoping will become a genuine competitor to Android.

"The market is not big enough to support three operating systems at this time," a DoCoMo spokesman told the WSJ.

Only last September, NTT Docomo  began selling its first iPhones in Japan in a bid to lure back customers that had switched to those rivals selling Apple's devices. However, the DoCoMo spokesman said the operator's decision to stall work on Tizen was not linked to its recent move to sell iPhones. And, while NTT DoCoMo may not be planning to stock Tizen phones itself, the spokesman added that the operator will still work on the development of the devices itself.

Nonetheless, NTT DoCoMo's cooling attitude to the platform marks a significant setback in ambitions for Tizen. The Japanese carrier had been planning to unveil a Samsung-made Tizen phone at Mobile World Congress next month with a view to releasing the device in March.

The carrier is one of the key Tizen Association members, alongside SK Telecom, Intel, Samsung, LG, Huawei, Vodafone, Orange and dozens of other partners such as Nokia and eBay. Last week, an NTT Docomo spokesperson said it had delayed its March launch timeframe because it was still "developing products that would maximise the features of the Tizen".

Samsung has previously said that it plans to release its first high-end Tizen smartphones by August and is looking to use the platform for its smart TV business.

ZDNet has asked Samsung for comment and will update the story if it receives any.

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