Samsung Intros 'Bada' Smartphone OS

Samsung, the No. 2 handset maker in the third quarter of 2009, announced the creation of its own mobile OS, called Bada - or ocean, in Korean. Based on Samsung's TouchWiz, Bada focuses on user interactions, services and increasing app relevance.

Samsung introduced a new smartphone platform called "Bada"-or "ocean," in Korean-in London on Dec. 8.

The South Korea phone maker unveiled the software development kit (SDK) for Bada and described it as being based on its TouchWiz interface, which offers users one-touch access to favorite applications and features. TouchWiz is included on smartphones such as the Android-running Samsung Behold II and the Windows 6.5-based Samsung Omnia II.

A focus of the OS is how users interact with a device. Bada tunes into a user with features such as flash control, Web control, motion sensing, vibration control, face detection and sensors- "such as accelerometers, tilt, weather, proximity and activity sensors," Samsung explained in a statement-that enable "context-aware applications."

Another focus is on services, and Bada is said to support ties to social networking applications, as well as device synchronization, content management, and location- and commerce-based services.

Finally, Bada enables the sharing of information-such as personal profiles and calendar appointments-between applications to provide each with greater relevance to the user.

"In providing Samsung Bada, I believe that Samsung will become a true leader in the mobile industry, offering a wider range of smartphone choices for consumers," said Dr. Hosoo Lee, Samsung's executive vice president, in a statement. "At the same time, Samsung Bada presents a powerful opportunity for developers to get their applications onto an unprecedented number of Samsung devices across the world."

In the third quarter of 2009, Samsung shipped 60.2 million handsets, which earned it 20.7 percent share of the global handset market. According to an Oct. 30 report from Strategy Analytics, it was the first time since 2006 that a vendor other than Nokia had shipped more than one-fifth of the world's handsets.

"The key to Samsung's growth has been an attractive portfolio of touchphones and an expanding retail presence across multiple regions," Neil Mawston, an analyst with Strategy Analytics, wrote in the report.

Google has been successfully growing attention for its Android mobile operating system, and in September Palm announced that it would stop using Microsoft's mobile OS in order to more fully focus on the development of its own, WebOS. However, both know well-and certainly BlackBerry, Nokia and Microsoft can also attest-that creating a successful OS is only half the battle. The other part of winning supporters is the quality and quantity of one's application offerings.

To this end, Samsung announced a Developer Challenge. Developers who use the features of the Bada platform to build applications for Bada devices, Samsung said in a statement, are eligible to win part of a $2.7 million prize. Additionally, in the coming year, a series of Developer Days will be held in, among other cities, Seoul, London and San Francisco.

In the statement, gaming giants Capcom, EA Mobile and Gameloft expressed enthusiasm for Bada.

"With nearly 100 million Gameloft games downloaded by Samsung users worldwide, it is quite clear that our games on these devices have made significant impact with consumers over the years. Utilizing the new generation device's technological capabilities, we plan to enrich the consumer gaming experience," said Michel Guillemot, chairman and CEO of Gameloft.

Yusuhir Sumida, general manager of Capcom's online business division, said: "We recognize our customers aren't all about games in their homes but want them when they're out and about, in the palm of their hand. To help us make this move into mobile we want to make sure we are working with the right partner. Bada is accessible, open to all and very easy to use."

As Bada is readied to compete with Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Limo, Maemo, Symbian, WebOS and Windows Mobile, analyst Philippe Winthrop, with Strategy Analytics, writes on his blog that for now a prudent approach to the new platform is one of "wait and see."