Number two device vendor Samsung has unveiled ‘Wave,’ the first smartphone based on its own mobile operating system (OS) bada.
Available globally from April, the HSPA device features very high-quality screen resolution (thanks to what the South Korean vendor claims is “the world’s first Super AMOLED display”) and contains a 5 megapixel camera and internally-developed 1GHz processor. Samsung’s own user interface – TouchWiz 3.0 – aims to enable a customisable menu and homepage and provide easy access to social networking services.
Samsung’s move at the end of last year to launch a new, open mobile platform that competes with more established rivals such as Symbian and Android created much attention. “This is the right product to give a boost to bada’s success,” Thomas Richter, head of portfolio management, told Show Daily. “It’s unbeatable in every aspect.”
The device is being pitched as a ‘mid-high tier’ product and is expected to retail at around EUR330.
Management at Samsung recognise that for bada to be a commercial success in such a competitive OS market the vendor will need to extend the portfolio of smartphone products supporting the platform. “This will be the hero of our portfolio,” commented Ms. Younghee Lee, adding that it “will be followed by more devices focusing on lower tiers so that we can bring bada to more people. We don’t want to make bada a niche product.”
The new bada platform aims to complement Samsung’s existing mobile applications store, which will be available in more than 50 countries across the world this year. Indeed, the vendor is actively seeking to recruit application developers by launching its bada Developer Challenge with a total prize fund of US$2.7 million.
“We are going to provide a lot of killer apps at the beginning of bada’s life,” senior engineer Eric Yoon told Show Daily. “By the end of this year we expect to see a lot of bada devices, it will be very competitive and the ecosystem will grow and grow.”
Joss Gillet, senior analyst at Wireless Intelligence, was cautious on the strategy. “Samsung certainly deserves credit for diving in the pool of operating system providers but will face strong competition from six experienced suppliers. Nonetheless, cash returns can be rather substantial providing that they quickly meet their price targets and rapidly attract enough developer commitments. Overall, Samsung’s portfolio rationalisation around bada re-emphasises the importance that software has taken over hardware in recent years.”
Despite its promotion of bada, Samsung was keen to stress that it continues to support a range of operating systems. “baba will be one of our platforms,” said Lee. “We are still working on Android, preparing for new Windows Mobile features coming this year, and also LiMo.” However, Lee did appear to confirm recent reports suggesting the vendor no longer sees Symbian as a priority platform. “We have not yet focused on a new handset supporting Symbian but we would support it moving forward if demand was there.”
Certainly Samsung is responding to the competitive threat posed by the likes of larger smartphone rivals Apple, Nokia and RIM. Earlier this month it said it aims to treble its smartphone shipments in 2010 by delivering its biggest ever portfolio of smartphones to the market. In terms of total mobile handsets, Samsung aims to increase shipments from 227 million in 2009 to 270 million in 2010. Samsung also tonight unveiled another four devices.