Samsung to Open Source Bada

It’s a tough world out there for mobile OSes. iOS and Android rule the skies, and Windows Phone 7 is trying to catch up. Nokia has pretty much thrown in the towel on Symbian (at least for higher-end phones) and adopted Windows Phone 7 as its go-to operating system, and upstart Meego looks to be dead, again, finally.
Often lost in the mobile OS shuffle is Bada, Samsung’s homegrown mobile OS. Although Samsung uses Android on its phones in the U.S., Bada can be found on the company’s overseas Wave handsets. Now, according to a report from the Wall Street journal, Samsung is planning to open source Bada sometime next year.

The report also indicates that Samsung is looking to make Bada a multiplatform OS; in addition to handsets, it could run on Samsung’s smart TVs. In that space, it would compete directly with Google TV.

This development comes on the heels of the release of the Bada 2.0 SDK, which was announced just weeks ago. Samsung also recently upgraded its Samsung Apps store.

For all the dominance of other companies on the mobile OS front, Samsung does quite well for itself with its hardware, never-ending legal disputes with Apple over its designs notwithstanding. Success as a hardware company, however, does not necessarily translate into success in developing software and operating systems, and it appears that Samsung might be realizing that it needs help on that front.

Although the company’s mobile devices are quite popular, they currently run on Android, and it wouldn’t be a terrible idea for Samsung to find a way to reduce its dependence on Google by bringing along Bada. Of course, it remains to be seen if Bada will ever launch in the U.S., and if so, if the mobile OS would ever catch on.

Regardless, open sourcing Bada is probably a smart move. For some companies, the solution to needing to get better at something is to buy another company that excels in that particular area. If Samsung indeed ends up taking the different approach of open sourcing Bada instead, however, it is effectively acquiring the largest cadre of software developers in the long as a sufficient number of those external developers are interested enough in Bada to put some time in.