Chances for a Tizen Smartphone Entry
Available Game Engines
Tizen managers and developers alike are working to provide a variety of game engines to early adopters with hopes of offering games from industry giants like Unity.
Primary Game Hardware and Market Size
Speaking on behalf of one of the largest game engines, Unity General Manager John Goodale emphasizes ubiquity when speaking of a giant mobile market large enough to accommodate a number of new technologies. The smartphone market supports an "explosive industry that is growing very rapidly", states Mr Goodale. "There's not just room for two or three or a handful of players", rather "the market can extend to as far as we can effectively execute", he says. Regarding the ubiquitous nature of mobile technology creeping into our lives over time, Mr Goodale continues, "some things have become so commonplace that we hardly notice them", and that according to Juniper Research, mobile devices like Tizen smartphones likely will be the primary hardware for gaming by 2016.
Figure 5. Some things are so commonplace that we hardly notice them. (GNU Free Documentation License 1.3)
Referring to Unity's decision to support Tizen (as well as Tizen's entry in the smartphone market) Mr Goodale summarizes, "Jump on in, the water's warm."
Uninspiring Ubiquity or Technical Distinction
A number of technical characteristics set Tizen apart from other systems with similar mobile-oriented goals. Aside from any number of eye-candy features likely to be implemented close to a first device launch date, Tizen designers will need to strive for unique features to secure technical distinction that sets Tizen apart from its competition. Consumers interested in such unique technology include a number of actors along the technical "food chain" starting with designers to programmers and finally end users.
Tizen may raise a few eyebrows. Aside from being packed with familiar Linux technology, Tizen sports some unique features like dynamic boxes and hybrid application packages.
For Linux users, first and foremost is the familiar layout of Tizen's internal filesystem. Most configuration can be found in /etc, runtime variable state in /var, user files in /home/<user>, temporary files in /tmp and so on. While security abstraction measures exist to mark and protect certain regions (SMACK), this filesystem familiarity will surely provide comfort to some.
Tizen puts forth the concept of dynamic boxes, small Web applications embedded inside other applications, to provide users with dynamically updated content. The rich Tizen API exposed to provide dynamic box logic supports the dynamic box with an independent life cycle. At runtime, Tizen's Web runtime has the ability to control the life cycle of dynamic boxes.
Ownership and Other End-User Freedoms
Compared with nearly all existing mobile platforms, Tizen offers an unrivaled degree of end-user freedom. A user can modify or replace any part of the platform right down to the kernel and low-level security layers. Rather than blurring the lines of free license by releasing binary blobs of kernel and libc while publishing only sanitizing header files, Tizen's GNU/Linux kernel and other sources are complete, on-line and publicly accessible. Developers can pull a copy of these sources and build their own Tizen image ready for installation to hardware. It remains to be seen if operators will implement tricky bootloaders to lock terminals to custom kernels and certain Tizen drivers depending on proprietary microcode (like the modem providing cellular voice communication), but as far as platforms go, Tizen provides the end user with far-reaching freedoms.
Breadth of Supporting Architecture
Arguably, from a development perspective, Tizen's unique platform architecture sets it apart from nearly all competitors with the exception of Blackberry. Tizen's architects eyed a variety of device types from the beginning, leading to a flexible architecture that will accommodate all sorts of tablets, desktops, vehicle terminals (IVI), television consoles and others once the first wave of smartphone handsets is rolled out. Furthermore, Tizen's layered architecture features core components and frameworks providing APIs to high-level applications of a variety of technologies. This breadth of logic will appeal to developers of Web, native, hybrid and third-party technologies alike.
Figure 6. Architecture of the Tizen SDK 2.1 (CC Attribution 3.0 Unported)
Michael Schloh von Bennewitz is a computer scientist and expert on network software engineering.
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