EDITORIAL: A look at bada, the past and the future
Almost 2 years has passed since Samsung launched their first device running on their bada platform, the Wave. The Wave was a flagship device which had state of the art specification like a fast and power full processor, in fact it was the first device to run on Samsung’s own Hummingbird chipset and it was also the first device with a Super AMOLED panel which has a few advantages over the regular AMOLED panels. The built quality was extraordinary good, because of the metal chassis. The device felt good in the hand and was also lightweight even by the metal chassis.
The software was decent, not great but for a starter it wasn’t bad either. Out of the box it has a lot of handy features like music recognition and schedule messages, it has features where some users from other platforms like iOS would dream of. Generally the performance were good but it had also a few flaws like memory leaks, the user would get a message to force close some apps to free up RAM even when there was only 1 application running. The other flaws were the problems with setting up a Microsoft Exchange account and that the device started to lag when you were using it heavily by running graphical intensive games or browsing on heavy websites (caused by the memory leaks), the browser was the main reason of this problem. Samsung was aware of these issues and tried to fixed them with updates. They fixed a few problems in bada 1.0, 1.0.2, 1.2 and the others should be resolved in 2.0.
After the launch of the first Wave some interesting information came up, the launch of bada was the most successful launch of a new platform since the iPhone (iPhone OS, nowadays know as iOS). It managed to get 2 percent market share in Q3 of 2010 which is about 1.3 million users. Keep in mind that these figures where just 4 months after the launch in Europe and that Samsung was still launching the device in a few markets like in Asia and South America plus that they haven’t launched it in the US.
Samsung had not only a successful start with bada but also with their first Android flagship device, the Galaxy S. Even that they were pleased with the success of their products it came also with a unexpectedly drawback and that was the shortage on AMOLED panels. They simply couldn’t keep up with the sales of these 2 products and because of that Samsung decided that the Galaxy S had priority over the Wave for the Super AMOLED panels and they introduced the Wave II, which was not meant to be the successor of the original Wave but was more meant as a replacement device. The Wave II has almost the same specifications but instead of 3.3 inch Super AMOLED display it has a 3.7 inch Super Clear LCD display. In the meantime Samsung released also 2 other bada devices, Wave 2/Wave 525 and the Wave Pro/Wave 533, both were meant for lower end markets.
As member of the Samsungfirmwares team I had the privileged to get my hands on and to test the latest version of bada were Samsung was working on, bada 1.2. The latest version would bring T9 Trace to the platform which is a input method like Swype and the performances were improved.
Then a period of silent came along where bada users were looking forward to the next level of the platform. On MWC 2011 Samsung held a bada developer day where they unveiled bada 2.0.
Bada 2.0 would have many new features like full multitasking, new and improved user interface, voice recognition and more. At the developer day Justin Hong, which is the project lead of the bada platform confirmed that the original Wave and Wave II would get an update to bada 2.0. On MWC 2011 Samsung also introduced a new bada device to the Wave family, the Wave 578. Which was the first bada device with NFC chip. Although it has a NFC chip the phone was still meant for the lower end markets. In the meantime Samsung released a few updates for their Wave family, but these were just small updates for solving some bugs.
On IFA 2011 in Berlin Samsung unveiled some new products and one them was the Wave 3. The Wave 3 is the successor of the original Wave and the Wave II. The Wave 3 is bada’s flagship device which is the first device to run on bada 2.0. The device itself is absolutely gorgeous, it has a slim and innovative uni-body slide out chassis which is made of metal and it has 4 inch Super AMOLED display. The processor is a fast single core 1.4 GHz from Qualcomm. Interesting was that the first generation bada devices were only running on Samsung chipsets but now its also running on chipsets from other vendors. Along with the Wave 3 Samsung also announced the Wave M and the Wave Y. The Wave M is mid range device with 3.65 inch HVGA LCD display with a 800 MHz processor and the Wave Y is a mid/lower end market device with a 3.2 inch HVGA LCD display running on a 800 MHz processor.
Samsung has launched these 3 devices in Q4 in a few countries like France, Italy, Germany and Russia with the note that they will add more countries in 2011. The prices of these new bada devices are positioned lower than Samsung’s Android devices, the Wave 3 priced at t €399,-, Wave M €249,- and the Wave Y €159,-. The price of the Wave 3 with just €399,- is really interesting, for that price you will get a flagship device with pretty good specification plus good looks and the latest version of bada.
About a week ago I tweeted that prices of the Wave 3 has decreased, even in The Netherlands were Samsung hasn’t released the device officially you can buy it for about €250,-, the price has decreased with more than 38%! But is this a good or a bad sign? Normally when the prices are decreasing it can be a sign that sales not going well, I have a feeling that Samsung hasn’t sold many units and that they were aware of this. Since they haven’t launched the device in many countries as they have done it with the original Wave and if you are looking at the specifications of the Wave 3 you will notice that its just a minor upgrade from the original Wave and the Wave II.
With bada 2.0 Samsung came also with a new SDK for developers to write apps for bada.
With the new SDK developers can use the features of bada 2.0 for their apps like: multitasking, Near Field Communication, Speech-To-Text and Text-To-Speech, WiFI direct, OpenAL, In-App ads, Push Notifications and more. Developers can also use the new development tools like performance analyzer and profiler for monitoring and fine tuning their apps.
Since bada 2.0 I noticed that more new apps have find their way to Samsung Apps like a the free navigation apps from Navmii. The long awaited game, Angry Birds is also available in Samsung Apps for the original Wave, Wave II and the Wave 3. The makers from the app called Viber are also considering to make a app for bada.
Even that more developers are considering to bring their apps to the bada platform you will still notice the lack of quality and successful apps from other platforms such as Android and iOS.
I have contacted the makers of Wordfeud, to ask if they are working on a bada version of their app. But as I had expected they are not working on it. I have contacted more developers and I noticed that the reason that many developers are not working on a bada version of their app is because they don’t see that Samsung as creator is believing in their own platform. Some developers are pointing out that bada is just Samsung’s second platform right behind Android. If you look how successful Samsung is with their Galaxy line, I can understand why they are fully focusing on Android, but I believe If they want to take bada to a new level they should do more than what they have done till now.
Early this year there were some rumors that Samsung will merge bada with the new Tizen platform. Since September 2011 Samsung is working together with Intel on Tizen. Samsung has stated a few days later after the rumor about the merging came up that they are just looking into to the possibilities of merging both platforms, but I think there is more and that they are already working on a merge of both platforms. Since the original Wave Samsung had plans to run bada on a Linux kernel instead of RTOS kernel which they have used in all bada devices so far and also in the past in their feature phones.
I have read some reactions of bada users over the internet that this is a bad sign because Samsung will drop bada, well that’s not true. If Samsung wanted to drop bada, they could have done it earlier but they didn’t and they kept working on it on the background. I believe that the merge is good sign because when bada will be running on a Linux kernel Samsung can take bada to a new level. Samsung is not known for their good software in fact they are known for their hardware and received some criticism in the past with their TouchWiz UI but it will be interesting to see what Samsung can do when the merge is finalized. Keep in mind that Samsung has also learned much from their experience with Android such as implementing TouchWiz on Android and fine tuning Android, like adding hardware acceleration to the browser for a smooth experience and more. Maybe we will see more of Samsung’s planns about bada and Tizen on MWC 2012.
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