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Samsung to launch first Tizen smartphone as early as July

The upstart operating system will get its first device courtesy of the world's largest smartphone manufacturer.

Samsung's booth getting set up at Mobile World Congress 2013.
Roger Cheng/CNET

BARCELONA, Spain--Samsung Electronics expects to release its first smartphone running on the Tizen mobile operating system in July or August, CNET has learned.

The Tizen Association is scheduled to make the official announcement later this week at Mobile World Congress.

Tizen is an upstart operating system seen as an alternative to the stranglehold that Google's Android and Apple's iOS has on the smartphone industry. Samsung and Intel have been spearheading the development of the mobile OS, and Japan's NTT Docomo has already committed to carry the phones.

Tizen is just one of many emerging mobile operating system to make a splash at MWC. Earlier today, Mozilla held its press conference, and smartphones running on its Firefox OS have begun popping up at the show.

Tizen offers mobile carriers a chance to embrace an open operating system that it can customize to better directly serve its subscribers.

For Samsung, it offers a way to diversify its smartphone lineup, allowing it to maintain its multi-OS strategy. Alongside Android, Samsung is also a key partner to Microsoft with Windows Phone 8. But Samsung doesn't share the same interest in Mozilla's Firefox OS, according to a high-level Samsung executive.

Samsung's secret weapon in the mobile wars: Tizen

Smartphones running on Tizen, which is based on Linux and embraces HTML5, is supposed to launch commercially by the end of the year, an NTT Docomo executive told CNET in January.

It's also widely seen as a way for Samsung to distance itself a bit from its reliance on Google and its Android operating system. While Samsung is the No. 1 smartphone maker and Android partner, it still leans heavily on Google for software updates.

But Samsung and Google still maintain a good partnership, according to the Samsung executive.

"Everything is smooth," she said. "There's a lot of respect between the two companies."