Samsung Enters Smartphone Wars With Interactive OS

Nevermind the iPhone or Droid - or even the Pre, for that matter. Samsung is betting there's room for more in the smartphone market and unveiled its new bada OS yesterday in London.

The name "bada," means "ocean" in Korean and "was chosen to convey the limitless variety of potential applications which can be created using the new platform." Samsung claims the OS is extremely simple for developers - "one of the most developer-friendly environments available."

bada was built to be extremely interactive with its users - including flash control, motion sensing, fine-tuned vibration control and face detection. Samsung's hoping developers will take this User Interface and create a variety of applications focused around it - and thus different types of apps than the iPhone and Android OS have. The bada OS has a variety of sensors, including accelerometers, tilt, weather, proximity and activity.

It also was developed with Web 2.0 in mind - social networking, device synchronization, content management, location-based services and commerce services are supported through the OS, making it easier for developers to create apps around them, Samsung says. The platform is open, so all the apps will be able to access the device's basic functions, such as making phone calls (do people still do that?) or sending text messages. The configuration will allow various apps to share information, such as schedules or personal profiles, as well.

Samsung is sweetening the pot for developers, with the Samsung bada Developer Challenge, a chance for them to win a share of $2.7 million by creating new and creative apps.

The company, perhaps as a nod toward its late entry into the smartphone OS market, will host a series of Developer Days in Seoul, London and San Francisco, among other cities, throughout 2010. bada already has development partner agreements with Twitter, Blockbuster, CAPCOM, EA Mobile and Gameloft.

Samsung is second only to Nokia in mobile handset sales, accounting for about 20 percent of the market, and that number has been inching up. Most of the smartphone sales have chipped away at Nokia's primacy in the market and don't seem to have affected Samsung as yet.

Michel Guillemot, chairman and CEO of Gameloft, said in a statement that the bada partnership was a natural one.
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. Samsung bada offers a new and exciting digital distribution channel for Gameloft titles, as well as an additional outlet for users searching for high-quality entertainment.

Also paving the way for bada, Samsung last week released survey results that showed 42 percent of current owners of Samsung handsets would pay to download apps if they could. More than half that number said they'd pay up to 5 euros for an app.