Samsung to put third-party apps on cheap smartphones

The new Bada software platform will offer developers an SDK to put apps on Samsung's cheap smartphones

Samsung is opening up its cheaper smartphones to third-party application developers with the launch of a new software platform it is calling Bada.

The first phone running the software will go on sale during the first half of next year, with more products to follow later in the year, the company said on Tuesday.

Bada isn't a new operating system, but a software layer that Samsung has added on top of its existing proprietary mobile phone operating system, allowing third-party developers to create applications for its phones.

Bada could also run on top of Linux, a Samsung spokesman said.

Today smartphones can't be successful without lots of applications: Apple's AppStore has seen to that. Samsung is aware of that, but the mobile platform space is already crowded.

The big question is whether developers want another platform, according to Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight. Samsung will also have to convince operators, he said.

To attract application developers to Bada, Samsung will host developers days in Seoul, London and San Francisco in December and January. The SDK (Software Developer Kit) will also become available in December, Samsung said. Samsung plans to open an online app store selling Bada applications during the first half of 2010.

Samsung already sells high-end smartphones based on two other software platforms, Symbian and Android, which are starting to be used on lower-priced smartphones from other vendors.

However, Samsung has decided to stick with its own software platform on its cheaper smartphones.

"It's a way for Samsung to try to differentiate its products from the competition," said Carolina Milanesi, research director at Gartner.

It also means Samsung decides what features are added and when the phones are released, according to Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight.

When developing products based on the other platforms it has to depend on other companies, he said.

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Mikael Ricknäs

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