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Samsung today launched its Wave smartphone in the UK and France, less than a week after the device was introduced in Germany. The Wave runs a proprietary operating system called Bada, which Samsung debuted at the Mobile World Congress earlier this year. Samsung has previously stated that over 50 percent of its new smartphones would run on Google’s Android platform, so not only is Bada competing with one of the fastest-growing operating systems in the world, but it means Samsung is now competing against itself as both its consumers and developers will be forced to choose between the two OSes. Maybe Samsung should look closer at the Bada name because the first three letters indicate what kind of idea this is: B-A-D.
It brings to mind an early “Battlestar Galactica” episode in which the then-newly sworn-in President Roslin tries to temper the wish of Commander Adama to continue warring against the Cylons, which had nearly exterminated the human race in a single day. “The war is over,” says Roslyn. Same goes for the mobile platform battles: the top smartphone ecosystems of iPhone (s aapl), Android (s goog) and BlackBerry (s rimm) have won.
The shame of it all is that Bada looks like a solid smartphone environment and the Wave device appears potent — the phone runs on a 1GHz chip with an 800×480 resolution AMOLED display and can record video in 720p high-definition. Based on specifications alone, the Wave competes well with the latest and greatest handsets on the market.
But features and specifications by themselves won’t win any wars; ecosystems and developer traction are also required. To that end, Samsung provided a beta version of its Bada SDK to developers earlier this month and will sell apps through a Samsung Apps store. The company is also offering a $2.7 million prize pool to Bada developers in an effort to quickly ramp up the number of software offerings. But its big three competitors already offer more than 250,000 applications combined, and while not all of those titles are what I’d consider “quality applications,” there are more than enough solid software selections to keep people happy.
I’m not suggesting that there will never be another mobile platform that can compete with or dethrone the current incumbents. Instead, I think any new and successful effort will require a unique, fresh approach both for consumers and developers. I don’t see why a developer would create applications for Samsung through Bada when it could create software using Android for Samsung phones and many other handsets as well.
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