If you launch a brand new smartphone with effectively a brand new OS that has few apps into a market swimming in low cost Android models with hundreds of thousands of Google Play apps, will anyone buy it?
This seems to be the chicken and the egg problem that Samsung is facing with its very first Tizen powered phone.
Sure, Tizen powers some of Samsung’s smart watches and its 2015 range of TVs, but without a decent selection of apps, a Tizen phone becomes a smart feature phone relying on inbuilt apps and whatever content Samsung has organised for the phone to offer.
Samsung has celebrated the release of its first Tizen phone on its ‘Samsung Tomorrow’ blog, promising ‘exclusive benefits for localised entertainment apps and a simple user interface that makes mobility easier and more enjoyable, even for the first-time smartphone users.’
Of course, Android smartphones can promise the exact same things while having the Google Play app library, so the question for the Indian consumer is why they’d want to buy the Z1.
After all, I do remember years ago reading that while companies tried offering the Indian market cut down versions of computers, Indians wanted the same technologies we use in the West, with the same features, the same power, the same apps - even if they had to save up for longer to buy it.
I seriously doubt this has changed, and in the meantime, the Indian middle class will have grown - so can anyone tell me why you’d want this phone?
I don’t mean to discourage Samsung from trying - it does, after all, need to try to secure its own destiny, something that’s hard to do when your primary operating system for your most popular mobile devices belongs to Google.
So, Samsung has tried packing in the features to compensate, such as including the ‘Ultra Power Saving Mode’ seen in devices like the Galaxy S5 and Note 4, as well as lots of content.
This content includes a ‘wide range of free entertainment content spanning across categories such as music, movies, videos, mobile TV and radio’ with an app called ‘Joy Box’.
Another app is called ‘Club Samsung’ which lets users ‘stream and download from over 270,000 songs, and watch over 80 live TV channels.’
To further tempt potential buyers, Samsung says it has also ‘partnered with Hungama.com to deliver a wider selection of music streaming and downloading. Over two million Bollywood and English songs can be accessed for free for a period of three months.’
The company also says it has ‘additionally partnered with mobile Live TV service nexGTv and Box TV, bundled for three months, allowing consumers to watch their favourite TV shows and enjoy over 7000 Bollywood and Hollywood movies.’
Samsung India’s President and CEO, Hyun Chil Hong said: “The smartphone market in India is rapidly evolving, with many consumers using their device as their screen of choice for content including videos, television programs and video games, as well as a range of apps. We have customised the Samsung Z1 to meet these unique, entertainment-focused needs of local Indian consumers for a personal and reliable mobile experience.”
So, what’s inside specs-wise?
You’re not looking at a powerhouse here. You get a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 768 MB RAM, 4GB internal memory (expandable with a 64GB microSD card), dual-sim support, 1500mAh battery for 8 hours of talk time and 7 hours of video viewing, a 4-inch WVGA PLS screen, a 3.1 megapixel rear camera, a VGA front camera, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0 and 3G connectivity - no 4G is included here or even 3.5G HSDPA+.
It has an SOS alert help messaging system and built-in security/antivirus to help prevent fishing, pharming and other attacks as it’s unlikely there’s any Tizen viruses yet.
Available in white, black and ‘wine’ red, it well sell for INR 5,700 which works out to $112 Australian dollars.
Samsung Z1 Product Specifications
Network: GSM 850/900/1800/1900 MHz, HSDPA 900/2100 MHz
Display: 4” WVGA PLS screen
AP: 1.2 GHz Dual Core Processor
OS: Tizen 2.3
Camera Rear: 3.1 MP
Camera Front: VGA
Camera Features: Auto Face Detect Feature, Dream Shot
Video: MP4, M4V, 3GP, ASF, AVI, FLV, MKV
Audio: MP3, M4A, 3GA, AAC, OGG, OGA, WAV, AMR, AWB, FLAC
Additional Features: Ultra Power Saving Mode, Private Mode, Send Help Message, Security
Connectivity: WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, USB 2.0GPS
Memory: 4GB Internal memory + micro SD slot (up to 64GB)768 MB RAM
Dimensions: 120.4 x 63.2 x 9.7 mm
Battery: 1500 mAh