CES 2013 Preview: New Smartphone Platforms

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) - Based on stories being leaked in advance of next week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas it looks like smartphones may, once again, take center stage. But this year, instead of hardware, the main attraction will be software. And alternative operating systems, in particular.

The biggest news may be coming from Samsung - the company which makes some of the best Android phones on the market. The Korean manufacturing giant has confirmed the rumors that it will be introducing a number of new phones in 2013 which run on their own, home-grown operating system.

Samsung's new OS is called Tizen. Although talked about for months, even years, it seems the time is nearing for the formal introduction. Consider Google's(GOOG) purchase of Motorola Mobility, in mid-2012, as the incentive Samsung needed (if it needed any at all) to get this project moving. Samsung's previous phone operating system, called Bada, saw limited use (and acceptance) running on lower-end hardware.

What we know so far about Tizen is that it is open source software based on the Linux operating system. It's being developed as a joint venture between Samsung and Intel(INTC) . More than a year ago organizations such as the LiMo and Linux Foundations announced they would help in fast-tracking the project.

But, Tizen is not the only Linux-based smartphone OS coming in the near future. There's also Ubuntu for Phones.

Ubuntu is a brand name for a series of Linux operating systems for everything from desktop PCs, and tablets to set-top boxes, servers and "the cloud". The guiding force for the popular Ubuntu OSes is a British company named Canonical.

Ubuntu for phones has been developed to be fully touch controlled. That means no buttons. And, in early glimpses, the operating system looks and feels different from Apple's(AAPL) iOS, Android, Microsoft's(MSFT) Windows Phone and even Nokia's(NOK) recently abandoned MeeGo, which is now being turned into Jolla's Sailfish OS.

At least, with Ubuntu for phones, we have an idea what to expect. Check out the video featuring Ubuntu boss Mark Shuttleworth to get a better idea of what I'm talking about.

We should know a lot more about both new smartphone platforms next week.

--Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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