Tizen, the Samsung and Intel-supported open source operating system wants to break into the Chinese and Korean smartphone markets and is offering a prize fund of over $4 million for developers who create the best apps.
Tizen's competition will help it jumpstart an apps ecosystem and could well attract developers who would otherwise concentrate on the Windows Phone 8 or BlackBerry platforms.
Announced this week and expected to open for submissions in "just a few more days," the Tizen App Challenge consists of 54 cash prizes across three gaming and six non-gaming categories.
The three best gaming apps will each receive $200,000 with six runner-up prizes of $100,000 and nine third-place prizes of $40,000. Meanwhile within non-gaming -- i.e., productivity, entertainment, social media, etc -- the prizes are slightly smaller: $120,000 for each of the six category winners, $60,000 each for the 12 runners-up and 18 third-place prizes of $30,000.
In addition to apps built specifically for the Tizen OS, there are also 10 $50,000 prizes on offer for the best HTML5 web apps. Interested developers have until November 1 to submit their entries and the apps will be judged in December.
The competition is yet another attempt to break the duopoly currently enjoyed by Android and Apple's iOS operating systems, which, over the first quarter of 2013, accounted for an incredible 92.6 percent of the world smartphone market according to Gartner.
This month has already seen the first Firefox OS smartphones launch as a cheaper and more open alternative to the incumbents, and BlackBerry and Windows Phone 8 are also still attempting to build a niche.
And while the prognosis for BlackBerry in particular doesn't look good -- its latest earnings report shows that the company only managed to ship 6.8 million phones over the last quarter (Gartner's Q1 figures give the company a 3% market share compared with 6.8% 12 months previously), Tizen actually stands a very good chance of crashing the party because it has its sights set firmly on China --the world's largest single market -- and to a lesser extent, South Korea, where Samsung rules the roost.
In China, although Android is currently the most popular operating system, it is orphaned from Google's global apps ecosystem. Handsets activated in the country do not connect to Google Play, nor do they access Google's core search and location services.
Tizen is on a mission to build a surrogate ecosystem full of apps tailored to the region. As a result, as well as Samsung, which has already confirmed its intentions to launch its first Tizen handsets before the end of this year, a number of other tech heavyweights, including Panasonic and Fujitsu and network operators including Vodafone, Orange and Sprint, are backing the platform to succeed not just on smartphones, but on tablets, TV set-top boxes and as an in-car infotainment and telematics platform.