South Korean-based manufacturer Samsung, this week became the latest company to join the Linux Foundation with a contribution of $500,000. The Linux Foundation, established in 2007, is a nonprofit consortium of technology firms devoted to developing and promoting Linux standards.
By taking platinum membership of the Foundation, Samsung gains a seat on the board and joins just six other firms, Fujitsu, IBM, Intel, NEC, Oracle, and Qualcomm.
A statement from the Foundation reads, “This announcement makes it clear how Samsung will attack Apple´s position with both the Linux-based Android and Tizen platforms: get more flexibility and customization from an OS that can be used across mobile phones, smartphones, TVs, tablets and even appliances, while lowering its development and long term maintenance costs by working with a global community of 800 companies and 8,000 developers.”
Samsung´s membership doesn´t come as a major surprise, considering the company´s involvement with Android and other Linux-based open source software, but it does suggest that the manufacturer will be assuming a more prominent role in determining the future of Linux, writes Amar Toor for The Verge.
According to the Foundation, Samsung will work with other members to enhance engagement with the “kernel community,” and to develop open source best practices.
Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin praised Samsung´s “commitment to Linux and investment in its development,” adding that the company´s membership is “a strategic business decision that will result in advancing Samsung Electronics´ success and accelerating Linux development work.”
Samsung is reported to have been working all year on converging open-source Tizen, of which Intel is a prime backer – and its own Bada. These could be harnessed, in particular, for future cloud-oriented and non-phone devices.
Bada, which runs on the Wave line, has made a strong impact in certain markets in Asia and Europe, sometimes running ahead of mobile Windows. Carriers are increasingly looking for a ℠third way´, which they can influence more powerfully than the big two, Samsung may be set to push its own OS, rather than the other alternative of Windows Phone.
Samsung´s investment in Tizen and the upstream-aligned Linux ecosystem will help insulate the company in the event that Google´s acquisition of Motorola changes the Android landscape in a way that disadvantages competing handset manufacturers, reports Arstechnica´s Ryan Paul.
Samsung is also possibly looking to Tizen to provide a unifying Linux-based software environment that can run more effectively across the spectrum of devices and form factors that the company builds.
Tizen hasn´t achieved the same degree of community buy-in that the Linux Foundation had with MeeGo. The rough transition from MeeGo to Tizen left a lot of former contributors out in the cold and eroded the foundation´s image.
Samsung´s decision to increase its membership status in the foundation sends a signal that the company is committed to Linux for the long run. It won´t fully patch the hole that MeeGo´s demise left in the foundation´s credibility as a mobile platform steward, but it shows that the hole isn´t irreparable.