This week's big mobile news is the launch of bada, Samsung's own-brand operating system. In the few days since the news hit, however, there's been an awful lot of rumors, disinformation, misinformation and general blather. Does the world really need another OS? Well, that's not the point, really.
Meaning Ocean, or Sea in Korean, bada will give Samsung a chance to develop its own apps system, which it knows is just about the only thing stopping the iPhone's inexorable rise. Apple's bouncing two-year-old now has 17 per cent of the global smartphone market, and if rumors about the iPhone Nano are correct, that's probably going to get even bigger.
But, now Samsung has created its very own OS, does that mean it's going to dump any of its other smartphone operating systems? The firm is currently down with four: Windows Mobile; Symbian; Android; and LiMo—a little bit of something for everyone. Only a fool would drop WinMo and Android, and there would be some very angry geeks, should LiMo get the boot.
Despite rumors that Symbian's relationship with Samsung is looking the most risky, the Korean megacorp's senior VP, Don Joo, went on record today to say that Symbian was safe. It would be churlish to dump it, frankly, as the more operating systems your handsets can handle, the more customers you're going to have. And no one sees Samsung losing its leader status on the cellphone front quite yet.
And with the rumors and conspiracies comes the first "badaphone" image. This little monkey popped up this week on a Dutch GSM website. My first instinct is to call bullshit on this, but, hey, it's a pretty little thing, and we at FastCompany like pretty little things.
Bada is scheduled to launch in London in December, with quite a schedule to follow-up. The first bada phone is slated to launch in the first half of 2010, with a slew of new models coming in the second half of the year. Developers will have their day in Seoul at the end of this year, and in London and San Francisco in January 2010.
What is interesting, however, is that the schedule has no mention of smartphones—in Samsung's world, all bada cells are common-or-garden models. It's all about Samsung's smartphone experience. So does this mean that feature phones are going to get smarter? Possibly, but then the rapid march of technology means that everything eventually gets smarter. Doesn't it?
Samsung calls bada the next wave (oh, please) of the mobile industry. Well, it is and it isn't. But Samsung is probably the only mobile handset company rich enough to take on Apple and Microsoft—and have a fighting chance. Bada is Samsung's secret weapon to ensure it doesn't get left behind in the continuing cellphone stampede.