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Update: Business Insider incorrectly reported the membership fee as $500 million in its original article which has since been updated. The Linux Foundation contacted AppleInsider and notes the actual price of Platinum membership is $500,000 per year.
Samsung's half-million dollar investment will give the company a seat on the foundation's board and allow it greater oversight of upcoming versions of the Linux platform including the Tizen mobile operating system, reports Business Insider.
The new stake in Linux as well as the company's substantial backing of Tizen lends itself nicely to a theoretical push toward a true Samsung-backed iOS competitor and alternative to Google's Android, which itself is based on the open-source platform.
"Having just recently beat out Nokia to become the world's largest maker of mobile phones, this announcement also makes it clear how Samsung will now try to attack Apple's position with both the Linux-based Android and Tizen platforms," a Linux Foundation spokesperson said.
Samsung recently overtook Apple to become the world's number one smartphone maker and was pegged as the top overall mobile phone vendor in March. With its overwhelming market share, the South Korean company could be looking to leverage its momentum and take Apple head-on with a more appealing alternative to iOS.
Tizen mobile OS running on a Samsung development unit. | Source: TizenTalk.com
Since Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007 smartphones have become an increasingly popular option for wireless customers and the introduction of the market-leading Android OS has further expanded the sector.
Recent analysis showed a slight dip in Android uptake over the last month while Apple's iPhone continued to grow during the same sequential period. While it is too early to deduce that demand for Google's OS is waning, it seems that Samsung is hedging its bets and will be investing more heavily in the research and development of Tizen.
With support from the Linux Foundation's 800 companies and 8,000 developers, including fellow Platinum members IBM, Oracle, Intel, Fujitsu and Qualcomm Innovation Center along with substantial manufacturing faculties, Samsung is perhaps the only OEM that can take a real swipe at Apple's iOS.
Wireless heavyweight Nokia's Symbian fell by the wayside as iOS and Android took control of the smartphone market, and the company's partnership with Microsoft to use the Windows Phone platform is unlikely to cause serious disruption in the mobile space. RIM is also seen as a non-factor as the once-mighty BlackBerry faces obsolescence in light of recent corporate upheaval and stock drops.
Samsung has yet to divulge what it plans to do with its newly-obtained position, but the company's collaboration with Intel and others over the thus far nascent Tizen is a good indicator to what lies ahead.