Look Out, Mobile-OS Makers: Here's bada!


What the United States needs now -- according to hints by Samsung executives -- is not love but yet another mobile operating system. Yes, one more to compete against Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iOS, Google's (NAS: GOOG) Android, Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) Windows Phone OS, and whatever new operating system that Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) can finally pull out of its hat. I think they'll call that one QNX.

This intimation (or promise, or threat, depending on one's point of view) came from Samsung's senior manager of strategy, who said the company has long looked at the U.S. as a possible market for the "bada" operating system but would consider bringing the OS to the States under two conditions:

  1. If Samsung's carrier partners, such as Verizon (NYS: VZ) , would agree to offer bada phones, currently represented by Samsung's "Wave" lineup of handsets.

  2. If the company felt confident it could round up developers to come up with enough bada apps to be competitive with the other guys.

It's all 'bout the apps
Samsung's website calls bada "a new blue ocean of mobile applications." But bada's success, wherever it is marketed, will be determined by how many of those applications actually rise to the surface. Right now, bada has 13,000 apps available through its app store.

By contrast, the iPhone has more than 500,000 (that number easily found on the Apple website), and for the Android powered phones, there were -- according to one Web page -- more than 200,000 available in May. And CNET reports that there were more than 25,000 Windows Phone 7 apps as of last July.

Condition No. 2 looks like the biggest stumbling block for a U.S. bada rollout, but that hasn't proved a problem for bada phones internationally. According to the company, Samsung has already shipped 5 million bada-powered phones worldwide, compared with 6 million of its Android-powered Galaxy S units.

Whose idea was this, anyway?
In late August, I wrote about how the South Korean government saw Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility (NYS: MMI) as a potential threat to its country's smartphone industry. It urged Samsung and LG to join a coalition to develop a Korean mobile operating system. A South Korean deputy commerce minister even said, "In the long term, we cannot go on like this by solely relying on Google."

So what is the real message here, and who is sending it? Is it a (very subtle) threat from Korea, via Samsung, that if Google gets piggy about Android by keeping it for its own Motorola-produced phones, we're going to bring bada into your 'hood? Or is it a serious testing of the waters to see what kind of reception bada could hope to receive? Do you think bada would be a threat? Let me know in the comments section below.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorDan Radovskyhas no financial position in any of the above-mentioned companies. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Microsoft, and Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Microsoft, Apple, and Google, as well as creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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