With Bada, Samsung Dives Into Mobile OS Fray

Samsung Electronics next month will unwrap its own open mobile platform, marking the latest entry into the smartphone OS war.

The South Korean electronics giant named the new OS “Bada,” which is Korean for “ocean” and a name chosen “to convey the limitless variety of potential applications that can be created using the new platform,” according to the company’s statement.

Samsung today launched the official Web site that provides information on Bada and will soon include updates on product launches, features and event notices, it said.

An official launch event for Bada is slated for next month in London, during which Samsung will release the Bada SDK, though the company has yet to name the date.

“By opening Samsung’s mobile platforms, we will be able to provide rich mobile experiences on an increasing number of accessible smartphones,” Hosoo Lee, executive vice president and head of media solutions at Samsung, said in a statement. “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.”

The Korean company to date has been known more as a mobile global player in lower-end feature phones than for smartphones. But with Bada, Samsung plans to build on its long-standing proprietary OS for feature phones.

For instance, the Bada SDK now will allow third-party developers to create native apps, whereas before they primarily relied on Java or Brew.

Samsung is also planning to open an app store, and expects mobile phones running on Bada to arrive by the second half of 2010.

Bada will join a host of other mobile platforms, including Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) open source Android, which Samsung supports with a trio of smartphones including the Moment, I7500 and Behold II. It will also go head-to-head with Palm’s (NASDAQ: PALM) new Linux-based webOS software, Nokia’s (NYSE: NOK) Symbian, Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) BlackBerry OS and the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone OS.

All of those rivals have been busy of late.

Android recently received an update to version 1.6, called Donut, though the Droid smartphone that went on sale last week from Verizon in partnership with Google and Motorola runs on version 2.0., called Eclair. Google and carriers have yet to disclose details on when Android 2.0 will be pushed out to other phones’ users and other handset vendors.

Nokia just updated its SDK for Symbian to strengthen its suite of Ovi store multimedia services and today began shipping the N900, an Internet tablet running on yet another open source OS, Maemo 5.

RIM recently acquired Torch Mobile, and is slated to release an updated mobile browser by early 2010, as it hosts a developer conference this week showcasing updates to the BlackBerry OS.

Apple updated the iPhone OS twice recently, with the latest version 3.1.2 just out in early October, and the App Store just surpassed the 100,000-marker for available mini iPhone programs.

Palm is gearing up to take its Palm App Catalog store out of beta by December, and in October also made a significant OS update available to developers — webOS 1.2.

Meanwhile, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is prepping version 7 of its Windows Mobile OS, and just rolled out a family of smartphones from several manufacturers running Windows Mobile 6.5.

Samsung had not returned calls seeking comment by press time.

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