John Paczkowski

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NTT Docomo Mulling Bet on Tizen OS

tizenWhen the first smartphone to run Tizen — the Linux-based platform for mobile devices being developed by Samsung and Intel — finally debuts in 2013, it may do so in Japan.

Industry sources tell the Yomiuri Shimbun that NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest wireless carrier, has quietly signed on to work with Samsung, Intel and others to bring a Tizen handset — likely the first — to market.

Tizen has been pitched by its creators as a more open alternative to both Android and iOS, and one powerful and adaptable enough to run across everything from smartphones and tablets to smart TVs. With Linux guts and a higher-level interface for Web apps, it’s designed to be HTML5-friendly, which will theoretically make it appealing to developers.

Just how appealing remains to be seen. But obviously that’s the key question here. Because no matter how slick and powerful Tizen is, it’s not going anywhere without a robust ecosystem and significant developer support. Which isn’t to suggest it’s a non-starter. But it’s certainly at risk of becoming one.

In any event, it’s not at all a sure bet for NTT Docomo. That said, with 60 million subscribers, Docomo is Japan’s largest wireless carrier. Its support alone could conceivably lend significant momentum to Tizen, giving it a decent base from which to mount a challenge to Android and iOS.

Samsung and NTT Docomo did not respond to requests for comment.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus