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Summary:

Samsung’s Bada is only a few months old, but already the operating system is accruing substantial market share. If the Korean manufacturer can overcome several key challenges, Bada could become a major worldwide mobile platform to compete with iOS and the increasingly fragmented Android offerings.

phone

Tomi Ahonen always shares interesting data in his quarterly updates on the smartphone space, and his latest offering includes this little nugget: Samsung’s Bada OS claimed 1.3 million users, or 2 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, during the third quarter. As Ahonen noted, it’s the most successful launch of a new mobile OS since the original iPhone.

It’s tempting to overstate Bada’s quick growth — 2 percent is just 2 percent, after all — but it’s worth noting that this growth occurred with the support of just a single handset (two more were released a few weeks ago) and without support from any U.S. carrier.

I think Bada can continue to pick up steam and become a major player in the worldwide mobile market because of a few key factors, which I discuss in more detail over at GigaOM Pro (subscription required):

  • Samsung boasts a huge global footprint. The Korean firm is the fourth-largest handset manufacturer in the world; it could increasingly focus on churning out Bada phones as the OS gains momentum.
  • There’s room for competition. The booming smartphone space is crowded, but aging platforms like BlackBerry OS and Symbian are losing market share. Meanwhile, the only other new mobile OS that could threaten the incumbents is Windows Phone 7, which has yet to catch fire.
  • Android is becoming increasingly fragmented. Android’s growth is astounding, as my colleague Ryan Kim wrote last week, but the disparity of handsets is forcing developers like Rovio Mobile to build separate, lightweight versions of their wares for lesser-powered gadgets.
  • Developers are in the fold. Bada already has support from key developers like EA, Capcom and Gameloft; in August Samsung released version 1.0 of its software development kit (SDK).

Samsung has some serious challenges to overcome if Bada is to break through and become a major mobile OS, obviously. But if the manufacturer is up to the task, we could see Bada join iOS and Android in the top tier of mobile platforms. Developers of mobile applications should take note.

Read the full post here.

Image courtesy Flickr user Tom Purves.

Related Content From GigaOM Pro (subscription required)

  1. What does the Bada Apps ecosystem look like? Are there any must-haves luring people to the platform?

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    1. It looks pretty sparse right now, AnthonyB, especially compared to the App Store and Android Market. But the ecosystem is only a few months old, and developers are sure to pay attention if Bada continues to catch on.

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      1. I work at a mobile agency and we develop apps for big brands, the reality is that clients only normally have budget for one platform, two max.

        I don’t need to tell you what those two are and the order they come in, so realistically I don’t see Bada getting the same standard of apps any time soon, unless they take the same strategy as Nokia and pay brands and agencies to produce apps.

        It’s still a battle getting budget for mobile activity, even with everything going on. Bada is going to be third down the list at best

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  2. It’s interesting to contrast Bada with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7.

    Bada has had virtually no coverage in the news, and very little advertising. Yet it is now selling in the millions.

    Windows Phone 7 had the largest marketing budget of any product in history (reportedly upward of half a billion dollars). It has been continually hyped in the media. Yet its sales in the United States are lackluster.

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    1. Great point, Donna B. Microsoft’s big-budget market may prove very effective, but so far we’re not seeing much.

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  3. There are a few reasons Bada is not likely to be a success beyond modernizing software in Samsung’s line of features phones:

    Bada is not particularly innovative. It does not have an object oriented managed language runtime the way Android, Windows Phone, and iOS have.

    There are other open Linux-based smartphone and/or tablet OSs more likely to find mind-share, such as Meego.

    Almost all embedded chip makers and device ODMs have decided that, for now, Android is embedded Linux.

    Only Android’s Java environment and SDK and Apple’s Objective-C have developer mind-share, as evidenced in, for example, sales of books teaching how to develop software. Windows Phone is attractive enough that C#, Silverlight, and XNA might also get some attention. There isn’t much room for a fourth, unless it brings interesting new capabilities, and Bada, as yet, does not.

    Bada is worth doing if only to provide a modern platform for handsets that can’t run Android well, and some customers may come to prefer Bada, even on higher-end hardware. But, as it is today, it is unlikley to be a leading smartphone platform contender.

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  4. I’m from korea and let me tell you that Samsung sucks at anything software. It’s weired talking negative about our home brand but it serious does suck. It better concentrate on providing just the Hardware.

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    1. Thanks for the input from Korea, Kim Shu. Bada has received mixed reviews so far, admittedly (especially compared to the supporting hardware), but like any new OS it’s a work in progress. There’s plenty of opportunity if Samsung can address its shortcomings.

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  5. Hope Samsung won’t ruin everything duo to it’s reputation since bada OS is really nice and promising mobile OS. Let’s see!

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