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Tizen signs up new allies, but still no real phone

Tizen is hoping to expand its use in televisions and wearable devices, with Samsung's Gear 2 and Gear Neo the first two notable examples.

Gear Neo from Samsung.

BARCELONA, Spain--The Tizen bandwagon is getting bigger, but it hasn't traveled far.

The Tizen Association on Sunday talked up its 15 new partners, including notable names such as Japanese carrier SoftBank, Sprint, Baidu, and ZTE. A no-show has been any smartphone running the operating system, with only reference units on display.

"I've heard twice that Tizen is dead," said Tizen Association Chairman Roy Sugimura, who is also an executive at Japanese carrier NTT Docomo. "Tizen isn't dead."

Tizen is one of several upstart operating systems attempting to break into the market, with the backing of major players Samsung Electronics and Intel. Initially, it was seen as a smartphone platform that carriers could use to market their own services, offering an alternative to Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

But it's been slow going for Tizen. A smartphone with Tizen was originally scheduled to be released late last year, but was delayed multiple times and appears to be delayed again. NTT Docomo was supposed to be one of the first carriers to sell a Tizen phone, but has backed off of those plans.

Instead, the group can point to Samsung's Gear 2 and Gear Neo smartwatches, the first mainstream product to run on Tizen, as the poster children for the platform. There's also a camera that runs on Tizen that is only available in South Korea.

While Tizen was originally meant for phones and infotainment systems found in cars, the company said today that it is expanding its scope to include televisions and wearable devices.

Tizen also said it had signed up 36 new members to accelerate the development of apps, a key weakness for mobile operating systems fighting for interest.

The association took the time at the event to award developers with more than $4 million in prize money for both native Tizen and HTML5 apps.