Samsung enters open mobile OS market

Samsung Electronics, better known for its mobile phones, has decided to launch its own open mobile operating system, called "bada," which can be used to develop applications for Samsung phones. Samsung said that bada--which means "ocean" in Korean--will build on Samsung's work in proprietary mobile phone operating systems, and will be simple for developers to use. Samsung said that operators will be able to integrate the platform easily and be able to "provide unique and differentiated services to their customers."

Many details about the operating system are vague. According to IDG News Service, bada will be able to run on top of Linux. There will also be a central application store. Samsung said that the OS will have a next-generation user interface, and will support service-oriented features. The OS will encourage common experiences and functions across applications and developers will be able to incorporate a phone's dialer, messaging capabilities and address book into applications.

The introduction of bada adds yet another player in the crowded operating system market, which already includes smartphone operating systems from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Palm, Research In Motion and the Symbian Foundation. 

The first bada-powered phone will be released in the first half of next year, with more phones to follow in the second half of the year. The application store will open in the first half of 2010, and will launch in around 30 countries, including France, Italy and the U.K., in the second half of next year. Samsung will host a developer event in Seoul in December, and events in London and San Francisco in January.

Samsung's foray into the smartphone market comes well after other players have established application stores. "We are in a market which values software differentiation. And Samsung historically has been a hardware-oriented company," Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart told FierceWireless. "User interface and consumer experience are key. And in this area Samsung has been lacking."

Greengart said he had not seen a demonstration of the OS, however he added that the success of Samsung's bada would depend upon how well the company executes on the OS and whether it can deliver a unique experience. "You never want to write off the world's second largest handset vendor," he said. "It's hard to see whether it's too late, but its is definitely late to the game."

Pete Cunningham, a senior analyst at Canalys, said that bada may be used to replace some proprietary platforms Samsung is using. He said going forward Samsung will likely use Google's Android platform and maybe Windows Mobile for its mid- and high-tier smartphones, and that bada will be used for lower-end smartphones.

"What that brings with it is mass-market volume," he told FierceWireless. "They hope that economies of scale will encourage developers to develop applications for this."

He added that because Samsung is launching its own platform, it will have a certain level of control over what features and applications are important. "If a vendor is in control of the platform itself, it can dictate the roadmap," he said. 

For more:
- see this release
- see this Samsung website
- see this Reuters article
- see this IDG News Service article
- see this Electronista article

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