While I was at the Mobile Business Conference at Interop, I did my usual networking. A great way to do that is to attend the panels that have "people of interest" and introduce yourself after they are done speaking. There were many people I wanted to introduce myself to this year, including a representative from Samsung...you know, the folks who recently announced a new smartphone OS.
You can see after the jump what I recently penned for FierceMobileIT on Bada.
Last week, Samsung announced it too was entering the already crowded smartphone space by creating its own mobile platform “Bada” (Korean for ocean). Scheduled to be available in mid 2010, Bada will compete with Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Limo, Maemo, Symbian, webOS and Windows Mobile. At first glance, one has to wonder why Samsung has decided to do this at this stage of the game. With eight (to varying degrees) mature platforms available in the market today, one must wonder where and how Samsung believes it can provide its own unique spin on how a smartphone can change the way a person works and lives.
This will certainly be a daunting task for Samsung. While certainly a Top 10 player, recent research from my colleagues at Strategy Analytics shows that Samsung – for the various smartphone platforms it currently supports – has less than 3% global market share for smartphone sales. That said, there’s no question that the smartphone market continues to experience healthy growth – even in with the economic slowdown.
Where will Samsung go with Bada that it didn’t feel it could with Android, Windows Mobile and Symbian (the latter which it will now stop developing for). Does this mean that Samsung will eventually abandon these other mobile platforms to focus exclusively on Bada, much like Palm did when it recently announced it was going to focus all its product efforts on its own webOS? Clearly, it’s too early to speculate on that last question, but there is certainly historical precedent.
Bada’s Impact on The Enterprise
It’s safe to assume that Bada will eventually have an impact on enterprise mobility – particularly in the context of the consumerization of enterprise mobility. If Samsung is able to deliver a compelling user experience with innovative hardware (along with the appropriate carrier partnerships), there’s no reason to believe we won’t see Bada devices in the market. As the line between work and personal time continues to blur, there’s no reason to believe that we won’t eventually see people looking to bring their Bada device into the work environment.
One key feature that Samsung will need to include in version 1.0 will be support for Microsoft’s Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) so that people can access their corporate email and PIM functionality on their devices. This has become table stakes for any smartphone platform (apart from RIM that uses its BES) and Microsoft has a history of willingly licensing EAS to the world, which suggests that Samsung should be able to support this functionality right out of the gate. The key issue becomes what Samsung does to make Bada a good corporate citizen in the context of enterprise mobility.
While Exchange 2010 supports 50 different mobility policies, only Windows Mobile devices (v6.5) support all 50. Other platforms such as webOS and iPhone support some of those policies, while Android 2.0 is rumored to not support any (yet). Samsung will need to ensure that Bada provides as quickly as possible at least a subset of these 50 mobility policies.
Another key aspect to making Bada corporate friendly will be that it must provide some method for IT managers to manage the basic functionality of the devices. The most typical approach for this is to create a multi-tasking operating system with a rich SDK and API library such that third party mobility management parties can create the appropriate connections to their management consoles. While this is key to making a mobile platform enterprise friendly, the reality is that:
- This takes a considerable amount of time and resources to create from Samsung’s perspective
- Third party mobility management companies will then take their own time to assess the viability of yet another mobile platform and then will require time to actually develop their hooks into their mobility management consoles.
None of this will happen overnight however.
Until then, assuming Bada comes with EAS support, Bada actually runs the risk of becoming a headache for IT administrators who will have to support yet another platform.
While PIM functionality is still the number one application being deployed on smartphones, modern browser platforms are making the mobile web and the mobile cloud a reality sooner rather than later. Some will in fact argue that the mobile web is already here today. Depending on which mobile browser core Bada uses (perhaps WebKit?), Samsung could make an aggressive play in terms of how it treats mobile applications. We know Bada will also come with the requisite App Store, but only time will tell how easy it is to build applications on the platform, as well as how quickly developers will flock to it.
With so little information available today about Bada, the most prudent approach will be “Wait and See.” IT managers should certainly stay abreast of the platform’s development and see how it will ultimately impact their mobility strategy.