Cast your mind back to the end of 2009, and you could be forgiven for thinking that Samsung was betting the farm on its new mobile OS, bada. Due to bridge the gap between smartphones and feature phones, its aim was to bring apps to the masses, while sitting pretty on top-end cells and basic blowers alike.
Fast forward to August 2010 and things look very different. The likeable Samsung Wave, the first phone to pack bada, has come and gone - superseded in the minds of mobile watchers at least by the absolutely stunning, Android-toting, Galaxy S. Well, now the Wave’s pared-down sibling, the Wave 723 has gone and got official.
On paper, it sounds nifty: five megapixel snapper with flash, n standard Wi-Fi and a 3.2-inch screen which you can poke and prod to your heart’s content. The new version of the UI even allows devs to tinker with their apps so they look right depending on the quality of the screen on offer, suggesting bada is a long term proposition for Samsung.
That certainly seems strange. After a huge push at launch and the outing of the SDK for hungry developers, nothing has really come of the platform. It hardly tore up the floor at this year’s Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. If anything, it was a damp squib, as Google Android and MeeGo slayed all before them in the headline stakes.
Bada’s aim was to push down into the midrange and offer smartphone skills on cheaper handsets, but can that approach really be said to be wise when it runs right up against what Google is trying, successfully, to do with Android? Of course, manufacturers using a wide variety of operating systems is nothing new. But bada doesn’t really appear to offer anything better than Android and does so at similar price points.
Given a choice between the Samsung Wave and the Galaxy S, the latter would win out every time. Likewise, why buy a new budget bada phone when you get something far more attuned to modern smartphone needs in the form of the HTC Legend and HTC Wildfire?
So what will Sammy’s approach be from hereon in? If the tweaks to the software are anything to go by, dropping down into the mid to low range market could be the future. Bringing wider app access to cheaper phones is a good move and is definitely where money can be made.
But if Google tries a similar approach with Android, bada will end up being squeezed out. Launching a proprietary OS always seemed like a strange move by Samsung. It’s making its best phones ever with the help of Google, and it would do well to forge ahead down that road rather than striking out on its own.