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Samsung Launches Bada OS Phone – But Why?

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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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28 Responses to “Samsung Launches Bada OS Phone – But Why?”

  1. The big thing is we can program in C/C++ rather than the Java. That itself is a big plus especially for me. The other platform that offers C?/C++ programming is Symbian. In Android, BlackBerry etc we have to program using Java. That itself is the first thing that I don’t begin consider programming for those.
    Never ever underestimate Samsung. They are really the quality provider. Do you know that the CPU that runs the iPhone is made by Samsung? I’m looking forward for the bada platform.
    I’m a developer in India. In Hindi Bada means Big, like Big Brother. Just keep that in mind.

  2. Samsung finally understand that their software platform is useless and try to build its own but it is too late since android is available.
    On the other hand, Samsung is expected to care its Galaxy model to upgrade the Android 1.6.

  3. Bada has a developer friendly environment. This is not the case for iPhone (you need a mac, also dev. platform is to sensitive, has conventions etc..) or symbian (which is buggy, even setup has problems, code is not clear). On the other hand, Android has a java front-end (it’s pretty but not native.), and you can not be a seller if you do not live in some countries.

  4. It’s easy to understand Samsung if you understand what their product is: hardware. Like Apple, they’re in the business to sell hardware, unlike say, Google, where the product is information and advertising. Apple’s entire “walled garden” software strategy, from to iPhone to desktops, is entirely driven and explained by the need to sell hardware.

    Apple’s strategy has been so successful, is it really a surprise that Samsung has taken steps with Bada to emulate it? Bada is “Bad” only if you don’t understand what business Samsung is in.

  5. LegoMan

    By what measures are some of you concluding that the Wave is a feature phone?

    Put your perceptions aside and look at what it offers. Samsung’s biggest hurdle with Bada will be people’s perceptions.

  6. Because Android will eat into Samsung market going forward. Nameless, faceless entities will emerge, buy a reference design from someone in Taiwan, put android on top, and threaten Samsung’s world domination.

    Because Samsung is a first-division player. Not a nameless, faceless entity that will stand in line for free soup. Within Samsung, there will be an ambition to differentiate and synergize their product offerings – probably, includes the creation of a common app store concept covering all Samsung devices – Phones, TV, Blu Rays, what-have-you.

    Expect Sammy to push Bada (if it has potential) all the way. And push out Android from their range in a year’s time. Symbian will be next. Meaning, Bada will grow into the smart phones first while low-end phones grow up until they are big enough to run Bada.

    Of course, only if Bada can live up to its corporate expectations.

    And don’t worry about apps. Sammy has all the 3Ms (market, money, muscle) needed to get the most interesting apps done on Bada.

  7. Hamranhansenhansen

    But Why?

    BADA is the only mobile OS other than iPhone that has a C API.

    The C API on Android is closed. You can only run Flash and Java applets on Android. You can only run Java on Blackberry.

    The reason you see so few iPhone apps ported to Android is there’s no way to port them. So BADA at least is setup to get iPhone ports.

    • matale

      This is incorrect, you can write native (C) code in Android.

      And why is everyone saying Bada is for feature phones? From what I have seen it will do everything Android does.

      This is a smart move by Samsung, you should never rely entirely on Google.

  8. “the top smartphone ecosystems of iPhone, Android and BlackBerry have won.”

    Oh Kevin, let’s not have that argument again. Nokia won that battle a long time ago.

  9. Sorin

    I don’t get it. What makes Bada more suitable for feature phones than Android? Android is free, has tons of apps, so what gives?
    There’s something else going on here, it’s the dream of every major manufacturer to have their own OS. Samsung has probably enough cash to risk developing Bada and see if it works (very, very probable not).

    • Control. As you put it, it’s every major manufacturer’s dream of having their own OS – and (as I mention above) to not be an OEM partner for Google or Microsoft. The link Tsahi gave talks about this as well. I definitely agree that it probably won’t work out for Samsung though (at least not in the near future).

    • Sorin,
      There’s another reason – differentiation.
      With Android, all phones look and act the same. Bada allows Samsung to stand out of the crowd – assuming they play it right and implement Bada properly.

      • Sorin

        Yes, I know, differentiation, but you can do that very well with Android. MOTO, SE, HTC, all do it (some better than others, but thats a matter if taste). After all most people have no idea what their phone is running (android, Bada, whatever) they just care about what it can or cannot do, so developers and ecosystems make the difference.
        My original comment was in regard to opinions that Bada is targeting feature phones and I don’t understand why android isn’t (more) suitable for that.

  10. I agree that Samsung will probably use Bada for feature phones, at least until they get some traction. I think they are trying hard to stay more than just an OEM partner for Google or Microsoft, but a strong player in mobile.

    • Brian, I hear you and alluded to that in the final paragraph, but that’s only part of the issue here. How will Samsung convince developers to create apps for Bada on Samsung phones over Android on Samsung (and many other) phones?

  11. Kevin,
    You might want to take a look at Antony Edwards’s post on Vision Mobile about Samsung’s Bada. It provides some really interesting insights into the mobile phones market – where the hype is (=smartphones) and where the mass market is (=featurephones).
    Bada is a featurephone, so it is sold in a lot larger quantities that smartphones. Having operating systems for smartphones that have development platforms and application stores make a lot of sense, especially when both Apple and Google aren’t there.