Why Samsung’s Bada Could Win Big

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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.

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