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Samsung Z1 with Tizen tops 1M sales in India; more handsets planned

Samsung surprisingly took 7 percent of the sub-$100 handset market in India but it still has work to do. More handset models and attracting developers are the strategy.

In the first six months of this year, Samsung has sold one million of its Tizen-powered Z1 handsets in India.

That may sound like a lot for a fledgling, relatively new mobile platform but put in perspective, it's a low figure. The Economic Times says that 2.8 million phones in the same sub-$100 market are sold in India monthly. From that context, Samsung's Z1 is still well behind similarly priced Google Android phones in the country with a population of more than 1.25 billion people.

Still, Samsung is pushing onward with Tizen for smartphones.

Sources told Reuters on Monday that the Samsung will launch several new Tizen-powered handsets this year at various price points. That could pave the way for Samsung to build up from the base of low-end Tizen phones to mid-range and even flagship devices in the future.

Samsung's biggest obstacle to broadening Tizen's appeal is one of timing.

The company delayed phones with the software for nearly two years, for example. And during that time, millions of smartphone buyers chose either Google Android or Apple iPhones, which can lead to a lock-in of sorts when it comes to apps and services.

In contrast to the million-plus apps available for each of those platforms, Tizen has a relatively small number of titles available. And until recently, Tizen apps were only offered in two regions. The company is trying to lure developers to build more apps for its Tizen phones by expanding the Tizen app store to 182 regions in April.

For now, Tizen is at best the fourth mobile platform in what has largely become a two horse race. Even while Android and iOS are vying for developer attention, Microsoft is trying to do the same for Windows Phone, while BlackBerry has turned to Amazon's Appstore for software.

To be sure, one million handsets sold in six months has exceeded my expectations, so credit to Samsung is due. Is it enough to build momentum against iOS and Android, let alone the other remaining contenders? I'm still skeptical on that one.

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