Samsung stakes its claim in mobile app gold rush by opening TouchWiz UI to developers
Watching wireless industry for a few years, I’ve had an impression that the line between feature phones and the smartphones is blurring and will go away in the next several years.
Samsung today made a big step towards this, opening its very successful TouchWiz UI to outside developers.
For now, Samsung has announced that it is working with Yahoo, Google and AccuWeather to introduce new “rich connected applications”, aka TouchWiz Widgets, on its touchscreen phones. However, these new apps from the biggies are not that important in the long run.
What’s more interesting is that Samsung said that it is working with UI Evolution to develop:
… a set of developer tools for Samsung to support the easy development of our rich connected mobile applications. Based upon the Eclipse IDE, developers will have a custom interface allowing them to easily access code samples, FAQ’s, device emulation, and submission of content for sale through the Samsung Rich Connected Application storefront.
Which means that Samsung will release SDK for creating apps/widgets for its TouchWiz phones to any interested mobile app developer soon. And will provide its own app store too easily distribute them. The new apps can work on any TouchWiz enabled phone from now on. Doesn’t matter what OS the phone is running on – Symbian, Windows Mobile, Android or Samsung’s own OS.
So how big is the opportunity for developers here? Well, Samsung has sold more than 10 million touchphones last year. Most of them are equipped with TouchWiz, but probably won’t be accessible to new app developers due to the need to upgrade. Very few current users will, even if Samsung provides tools to do that.
But Samsung will probably sell even more touchscreen handsets this year. And most of them will be already equipped with the updated TouchWiz with easy access to new mobile apps.
The rest will depend on the execution – how easily can TouchWiz phone owners find interesting apps? How well new Samsung app store and apps themselves are promoted? Will the carriers accept and push the new service? Etc.
But it’s certainly an interesting new wrinkle in the overall mobile app gold rush. I guess we will see how it all plays out by 2011.