Samsung will, by the end of the year, expand the availability of its Tizen platform to several African countries including Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
We knew very well that this was the year Tizen was coming to Kenya in a smartphone as early as January (another reason why you should sign up for our forums by the way).
The Tizen-powered Samsung Z2, expected to be launched in October, will be the first Tizen smartphone to make it to the continent.
According to a report by Korean publication ETNews, South Africa will be the first African country to get the Z2 in October while Kenya and Nigeria will follow later before 2016 ends.
The choice of the three countries, in addition to them being mobile technology powerhouses, is said to be informed by the prevalence of 4G LTE networks (in the case of South Africa) or steps to making 4G LTE networks accessible to many (in the case of Kenya and Nigeria).
The three African nations will join their Asian counterparts India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal where Tizen smartphones have been available over the last one year and have been very successful only coming second to the cheap Android smartphones on offer from Samsung and local players.
Samsung is also said to be keen on using these markets in Asia and Africa as testbeds for its Internet of Things (IoT) infrastructure before rolling it out in Europe and the Americas.
In Kenya, Samsung has been selling entry-level 4G smartphones with a lot of success despite increased competition from Chinese brands like Tecno and Infinix. With Safaricom, the largest mobile operator by subscriber base, testing its 4G network in major towns across Kenya, 4G capability has become a must-have feature on every smartphone entering the market regardless of the target segment of the market.
Last year, during the Kenyan unveiling of the 2015 editions of the Galaxy J5 and J7 smartphones, Simon Kariithi, the Internet and Mobile Business Leader at Samsung Electronics East Africa, had told us that the company was mulling introducing Tizen smartphones in the Kenyan market but he did not provide a timeline.
The Samsung Z2 will be Samsung’s third Tizen smartphone to go to market when it launches in October and the fourth Tizen smartphone overall to be unveiled. The Samsung Z never saw light of day after its planned launch in the Russian market was cancelled and we never heard about it again. The Samsung Z1 was the first Tizen smartphone to go to market and was an instant success in India and neighbouring Bangladesh. Oddly, Samsung went with the Samsung Z3 for the Z1’s successor and only is the Z2 getting any mention.
Other than 4G network capability, the Samsung Z2 is also said to pack 1GB RAM and an AMOLED display as well as the S Bike Mode that Indian users of budget Android smartphones from Samsung like the Galaxy J2 have been having. A notable feature of the device is said to be Remote Assistance which allows users to call for assistance from call centres.