Samsung's new smartphone OS: It's Bada news

Another smartphone OS, just what the world needs. And from Samsung, world leader in, what?

Today brings news of Bada, a new smartphone operating system from Samsung, product of corporate fantasy that second-tier brands can really change the world.

"Bada will be Samsung's landmark, iconic new platform that brings an unprecedented opportunity for operators, developers and Samsung mobile phone users around the world," said Hosoo Lee, Executive Vice President and Head of Media Solution Center at Samsung Electronics in a prepared statement.

Mr. Lee's comments aside, while Samsung has the ability to spend Bada's way into the world, creating handsets and getting miniscule developer support, the OS will never amount to much.

Why? Because "me too" products from "me too" companies like Samsung never find market-changing success and just crowd the market and confuse customers. Samsung's role is innovating around the edges and meeting price points. There is nothing wrong with that approach and it can work quite well.

However, the world is awash in smartphone operating systems and does not need another one. Even good technologies, like Palm's webOS and Windows Mobile face uncertain futures.

In this regard, let's think about Sony, which seemingly tries to create new ecosystems in every market in enters, sometimes to the detriment of its overall product success.

Its e-reader line is a good example; with Sony only beginning to find success after it abandoned its own standards and began adopting open standards.

Meanwhile, Amazon, a first-tier bookseller, was able to leverage that position into leadership, despite a proprietary format for its books. Brands can only go where customers are willing to take them.

Samsung is a perpetual follower and its attempts at leadership do not ring true and appear motivated more by sales opportunity that advancing technology. Great platforms are created by those who see a customer need or technological opportunity they can develop, not by salesmen.

Bada, which technically is not an OS but rides atop Samsung's proprietary operating system, provides a programming interface for applications developers. Samsung already offers Android and Windows Mobile-based smartphones. Bada phones are promised for 2010, with developer events starting next month in Seoul.

What does Samsung bring to the table? Greed, apparently thinking it, too, should be able to profit from creating its own app store. Doing that, however, first requires an applications platform and so we have Bada.

I think the motivation is wrong. Samsung does not seem to be really innovating to push technology forward, just trying to get into the applications sales. The marketplace, however, recognizes such imposters.

Still, Bada could play in some overseas markets, where other platforms have been slow to arrive. Port Bada to a wide variety of languages and it could gain a foothold and sell, potentially, a bunch of handsets for Samsung.

I do not see a Bada handset in my future (or yours), and wish Samsung would stick to what it knows how to be: A very good second-tier global brand.

Only first-tier brands get to build ecosystems.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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David Coursey

PC World (US online)
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