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Samsung's new mobile OS: What's a Bada?

Samsung will launch a new mobile operating system in 2010 called Bada. We take a closer look at what to expect and examine the various barriers to success facing an entirely new platform.

We have a sneaking suspicion that Bada is a term you'll hear us use a lot in 2010, so before the next year overwhelms us with awesome new phones let's take a look at what to expect from Samsung's new mobile operating platform Bada.

Samsung Bada UI
Screenshots from the Bada user interface. (Credit: HDblog.it via Engadget)

This year proved that the battle for smartphone supremacy lay in the success of the operating system used in the phone, and not the design and features of the handsets themselves. Apple's OS X variant and Google's Android made leaps forward in 2009, while Nokia's Symbian and the BlackBerry OS remained strong, and even Windows Mobile improved over the last 12 months. The make or break of these systems relies on two key factors — ease of use and third-party developer support.

This is exactly the hurdle Samsung's Bada will have to leap over right out of the gates. The screenshots above show an attractive system with an Android-like desktop, and clear, colourful layouts for media, mapping and messaging. So far so good, but we'll have to wait until we see Bada in action to gauge whether or not this is a system people will actually use.

Attracting developers, especially big name developers like game publishers Gameloft, EA Games, Namco and Popcap, is the major challenge of whether Samsung intends for Bada to be a true rival to the other major mobile OSes. After the whirlwind success of the Apple App Store it has taken a while for developers to shift gear and to look at Android and Symbian as viable platforms for development, so why should they bother with Bada? Samsung is promising a simple environment to develop in, with libraries of APIs for the developers' disposal, but only time will tell if Samsung can garner the support it needs to make Bada a major player.

Below is a video Samsung has produced for developers, but it's interesting to see some of the functionality we can expect from a Bada handset next year.