Behind the Bada OS – UPDATED

June 7th, 2010 by Arjan Olsder Posted in Platforms: Bada | No Comments »

The day after we visited Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 DevHub, MGB visited the Samsung Bada Developer Event in Amsterdam. Just like our Windows Phone 7 post, a big part of this story will have information you already know, yet there might be some scoops in this one as well.

Why Bada OS?

A question everybody seems to ask themselves is where Bada OS will fit in the growing smartphone OS landscape. The Bada OS will (so far) be exclusively used by Samsung while Samsung also announced that it will continue to support Windows Mobile/Phone and Android.

Samsung is positioning the Bada OS at the bottom end of the smartphone market and the top end of the feature phone market. In theory, Bada should hardly cannibalize on smartphone sales, but rather take a part of the feature phone market. For that reason, Samsung is marketing Bada OS phones as ‘the smarter phone’. Strategy wise, that sounds perfect. Yet, the first Bada phone, the Wave, has high-end hardware specs. In fact, the hardware would probably even qualify for Windows Phone 7 (we haven’t checked this).

Over 2010, Samsung announced it expects to sell 10 million Bada phones. The same amount of Bada phones are expected to sell in 2011. According to Samsung, that is a very pessimistic outlook so we shouldn’t be surprised if Samsung exceeds these numbers very fast.

C++ Development Tools & API’s

Most of the development for Bada will happen in C++. To support developers, there is a UI builder tool that generates a UI XML file (similar to the methodology for Windows Phone 7 with Expression Blend). Developers can also use API’s to display Flash Lite content and Maps (currently one provider but Samsung will add providers like Google later on)

Through the API’s, developers will also have full access to the multi-touch screen, sensors (compass, accelerometer atc), vibration, face recognition, Metadata (from Amazon) and social networks (Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to start with).

Another tool Samsung will be offering is remote testing of Bada phones. This service will be offered for free to developers. By the way, unlike Microsoft and Apple, Samsung is not charging for a developer membership.

When developing in Bada, there are three access levels. All developers have access to the normal level which excludes some API’s. Those API’s are available to Samsung Partners. To become a Samsung partner, you have to convince Samsung that you really need those API’s.

Bada allows developers to access multimedia content from the device on a read basis. Data from other apps is also available. Multitasking is available though limited to 1 device app and 1 other app at the same time. We tested this with the Asphalt game that is pre installed and this way of multitasking seems to work perfectly.

Java Support (j2me)

For some developers, there is confusion about the Java support of Bada OS. Samsung’s Technical Consultant Cheng Luo told us that Java is in the device, but no Java content is allowed to be offered through Samsung Apps so the only way to get a Java game installed on a Bada device is by getting it pre-installed by Samsung. Though performance wise this is a smart move, J2me support would have boosted the Samsung Apps catalogue.

Investigation from MGB shows something else though. There is a ‘Games & More’ icon on the device and it holds a number of Java games like Edge, Parachute Panic, Diamond Twister (demo)Tetris Refresh (demo), Guitar Hero (demo) and more. The demo’s are offered by Mbiz. If we select the ‘more games’ option, we are transferred to Mobillion who is selling J2me games for the Wave handset. As a test, we bought one of the Gameloft games which installed and runs perfectly. Funny enough, the Samsung Wave comes with one theme and if we want to download more, we are also transferred to Mobillion while there are no themes available their channel (might be disappointing for consumers).

Browser Based Development

The Bada browser does offer a few options to develop for the OS. First off, there is Widget development based on HTML 5 (xml, css, js etc) for the TouchWhiz 3.0 desktop. Secondly (and thanks to Booster Media for pointing this out to us), Flash Lite (3.x, actionscript 2.0) is functioning in the browser as well though the device first downloads the Flash file and then offers to execute the file.

Samsung Apps

Consumers can download apps through the Samsung Apps channel. At start, the channel will allow purchases via creditcard which doesn’t seem 100% in-line with the young consumer Samsung is targeting (will probably not have a credit card) and is something that developers at the event where not too happy about. Yet, we expect operator billing will be added very soon.

The local Samsung stores will be managed by the local Samsung offices, which means there will be no global promotion of apps, but one fit to the market. This strategy is similar to that of Apple and has proven successful to developers.

Samsung will be paying out 70% of app sales to the developers. From its own 30%, Samsung is also reserving part to pay the operators. This is move is similar to that of Microsoft. Operators will also have to option to have an operator branded shop. Apple is (as far as we know) still not sharing anything with the operators.

Samsung will also have an approval process in place. Samsung aims at an approval cycle of 7 days. We asked Samsung how they will handle reviews by journalists. There will be a couponing version in Samsung Apps and that is (at least at the start) the way to work for developers.

Apps and games can be promoted with Banners, Discounts and even game based events.


Next to Samsung Apps, Samsung has another sales channel called Kies. Kies can best be compared to the App Store in iTunes combined with device management. Browsing and buying games through Kies is a better experience.

Push Messaging

Developers can make use of Push Messaging through the servers of Samsung. The service is free for developers, but a message on the Dutch Samsung website suggests that Samsung might monetize push messages at some point “Bij aankoop van de Samsung Wave krijg je nu 1 jaar Social Hub premium cadeau. De Premium versie biedt push-technologie, zodat je op elk moment van de dag updates ontvangt van je vrienden.” which means buyers of the Wave receive one year of free push messages for updates from friends through the Samsung Social Hub and have to pay afterward. If this monetization is limited to the social hub, there might be hordes of developers that will bring alternatives through the Samsung Apps channel.


We have been playing around with the Samsung Wave for a few days now and are very impressed with both the hard- and software. Functionality wise, the OS shows us that Samsung has room to improve though if the functionality increases, there would be no reason to think Android and Windows Phone are better smartphone platforms from a consumer point of view. The fact that developers can launch Flash Lite, C++, HTML5 and J2me based titles on it should make it one of the most developer friendly ecosystems around though we can only hope that Samsung Apps will not stay limited to C++ content as content discovery will become vital for this platform as well.

UPDATE – Samsung confirmed that (at least in The Netherlands), there are no plans to monitize push messages for the Social Hub.

    Leave a Reply






    Arjan Olsder is the Vice President of Pixalon Studios. Opinions expressed on this publication do not have to represent those of Pixalon Studios.


    Contact Us:

    Other (Dutch) Publications:

    Copyright 2004-2010 Digishock Publishing. All Rights Reverved.