Samsung Galaxy Note. First Look
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Spillikins ¹169. BADABOOM: The Future of Bada
Man proposes but God disposes – this is what has been happening to me last week. The British embassy made it impossible for me to attend the Galaxy S3 announcement in London due to a large number of requests on the eve of the London Olympics. It’s too bad that I am not going to see many of my friends and colleagues there but I will still have all the news delivered to you. It’s just feels wrong to be spending May in Moscow.
My plans kept getting messed up with a few new phones that I got my hands on and need to review. I finally bought another PS Vita (a third one) to finish my review of it and add pictures and screenshots. I actually planned to write a totally different issue of Spillikins and discuss some social aspects of the mobile phone like when it is used to avoid unwanted conversations. Mu plans changed again after I twitted my thoughts on the future of Bada and had a storm of comments – i just had to raise this issue in these Spillikins. Unfortunately there is no way I can jam everything I have to say into just one article so I have to cherry-pick my topics.
Another topic I would like to discuss but don’t have the time right now is the problem of mobile phones layout for display in stores. I think this matter is interesting for both buyers and vendors as I’ll cover most common mistakes. Also, I have been using the MixBag for almost two weeks and would like to review it. I have mixed feeling about it so far but it certainly deserves a few lines in upcoming Spillikins.
I also plan to write an article for which I have been collecting info for several weeks on how blind people use mobile phones and other gadgets.
I wanted to dedicate a part of these Spillikins to Instagram but decided that it deserves a separate article. I want to discuss this app from the angle of what new experience it gives to users and why it made it big while many of more advanced photo editors did not. I hope it will be helpful for developers planning on making a photo app and give regular users a new perspective at this app.
Too bad I don’t have the time to enjoy the spring but work has its own pleasures in interesting meetings, news and discussions. Last week I posted my interview of a blind person who explained how visually challenged people use the PC and tweet. The podcast received many favorable responses and tens of thousands of people have downloaded it. Check it out.
The reason Samsung created the Bada platform (yes it is a platform not an OS) was Samsung’s poor results on the smartphone market. In 2012 it sounds weird as Samsung has become the biggest smartphone manufacturers taking over even Apple with their ‘gold standard’ iPhone. However, back in 2009 Samsung looked very bleak on the fast growing smartphone market. Samsung needed to make a decisive move and secure the results on this market while still making profit.
Samsung came up with a nice trick they called Bada which they positioned as a smartphone platform. Since touchscreen phones were becoming very popular they immediately got huge ‘smartphones’ sales. The real sales were good but not that spectacular. Samsung copied a trick Apple used with the first 2007 iPhone which was not a smartphone but became one thanks to Apple’s PR department who wanted to show the success in terms of the smartphone market. As a matter of fact the modern criteria of a manufacturer’s success based on its share of the smartphone market we owe to Apple. In 2009 Samsung joined in this game and introduced Bada. You can get more info on those events in my 2010 article on Bada:
In 2010 Samsung believe in a bright future for Bada and create two very similar phones Wave and Galaxy S – one runs Bada the other one Android, one has a plastic chassis and the other has a metal body, one has lots of apps and the other only a handful. The idea of Bada and the first Wave came with Samsung Jet, Samsung’s first attempt to show that regular phones can be smarter than smartphones.
However, in 2009 Samsung failed to change the trend so they chose a different strategy. From this point the future of Bada depended on the following factors:
As of 2012 Samsung failed to achieve any of those. The first Wave became the most popular Bada phone. Its successors Wave II and Wave III were getting less and less popular and losing competition to Samsung's Android smartphones. Wave III had the worst price to quality ratio which inevitably led to poor sales.
Samsung has always been reassessing budgets of all their new products and solutions based on the initial reception. So the company is very quick to boost a product's budget or abandon it like they ditched their phones on Symbian, LiMo and other OS. It is a slightly different story with Bada though. The first gen Bada devices were backed by a big ad campaign that went on helping the second gen in sales so a dramatic budget cut would not be reasonable and in 2011 funding of Bada continued – Samsung was getting everything they could out of it. But for users every new generation of Bada devices was getting less and less attractive as compared to Samsung's own Android smartphones. Subsequently, Bada phones have been far behind Android smartphones in terms of sales although doing better still than Windows phone products.
Secondly, investments into third party app development, UI and services development require a lot of time. Samsung has not been creating just a smartphone platform but an entire ecosystem and it was Samsung's first such experience. It was during Bada development when Samsung got their own app store even though it had not been planned. The idea of an own app store came from the regular phone development inside Samsung and Samsung Club. The early app store was later developed into Samsung Apps.
Samsung never expected instant success of Bada they reasonably chose to steadily enrich the platform.
The explosive growth of Android sales however was a heavy blow on Bada. Every manufacturer has to work in extremely pressing circumstances and use their resources in the most efficient way. So for Samsung it was an obvious choice between Android and Bada when it came to budget drawing in 2011. It is in 2011 when Bada phone series starts to lose competition even to older generation Android phones. Take a look at the phenomenal success of Galaxy Note, if Samsung were to release Note on Bada it would fail and become an interesting but unpopular toy. The market has chosen Android over Bada.
There is only one country in the world where the Bada ecosystem managed to survive and continues to prosper – Russia. Here Bada is profitable both in terms of the sold phones and apps. Samsung managed to saturate the Russian market with enough Bada phones to make app sales profitable here. Unlike in other countries where Samsung regional offices lowered the order quota for Bada phones because they could not sell them. However, Samsung Russian department remains pretty small so when Bada 2.0 update was released Russian users could not get it because there were not enough developers for localization as the priority had been set for Android devices.
Anyway, now Bada is in no-win situation. On the one hand, it is only possible to boost Bada sales by slashing prices (like Samsung did in early 2011). On the other hand, prices for Android smartphones are falling even faster due to extreme competition and Samsung cannot possibly keep up with them. The result is lower sales which make Bada less attractive for developers who switch to iOS and Android. Paying developers will also make Bada unprofitable.
As always, in this situation Samsung is going to reassess their priorities and give most of their resources to Android.
However, there won't be any announcements of Bada discontinuation either: unlike Nokia Samsung never hurry to destroy their own sales. The market share of Bada phones will simply steadily decrease and about in a year they will be gone from sale. They will continue to support the developers and products as planned at least for 2012. The end of Bada is natural and draws from the following facts:
In the end, it is just a big part of Samsung resources bound to the Bada project that goes nowhere. It is only natural that Samsung wishes to put those resources to a better use. It is simple business not rocket science.
If we look back at the history of Samsung we will see that one of the first big objectives the company had was to beat Sony. I recommend the book 'Sony vs. Samsung' – a nice illustration of that era. Back then, Samsung was distributing a corporate document called 'How to beat Sony'. And when they did beat Sony the name changed to 'How to beat Motorola'. About five years ago the goal was set to 'How to beat Nokia' (I remember it had a firing tank on the cover). Now Samsung employees read 'How to beat Apple'.
Apple's strongest and Samsung's weakest side is the software. Not services (Apple has no advantages in services and iTunes is an app that is turning into a service yet) but software design and apps. Samsung understands it perfectly and is trying to remedy the situation, hiring new experts and creating new software departments. This process will take years and requires some fundamental changes inside Samsung. But changes are a part of Samsung DNA and I am sure they can do it. But back to Bada: the Bada platform will not be gone completely. It will leave a rich legacy in many other projects: the UI, the app store etc. So in the end, Bada was not a waste it gave Samsung invaluable experience but it does not mean it should be kept alive artificially. It is time to pull the plug. Samsung might claim that Bada is going to transform into Tizen but it won't be true. It does not really matter what words Samsung is going to say in regard to the death of Bada which is going to take about a year. Bada did played its part and is ready to leave the stage. Nothing to worry about, all Bada products will receive timely updates and support. The future of the Bada platform is best described by Mila Jovovich in her private conversation with Bruce Willis:
On April 22 near the Apple branded store in Australia stopped a black van with the Wake Up logo. People in black shirts went out and started shouting the same slogan targeted at the store employees. “By chance” Blunty video blogger happened to be near and recorded the entire event. Rumors had it that it was Samsung, which wanted to launch Galaxy S3 this way, but the Korean company clearly had nothing to do with it. The code of the website referred to by the promotional pages led to Blackberry (RIM). Its representatives said they did not pay bloggers to cover the event and the script was not prepared by them. Anyway, watch the original video.
The main beneficiary of the video is Samsung always suspected of being aggressive to Apple. As far as the recent legal decision binds Apple and Samsung to find a compromise such an action would have meant continuing the war, which is not typical of Samsung.
The “experimental” video prepared by the Australian office of RIM is a direct reference to Apple: wake up and purchase us. The company, which is losing market share every day decided to laugh at the expense of Apple, which receives 80% of all revenues in the mobile phones market. It shows that RIM is going slightly mad and can compete with Nokia for the worst PR and marketing event of 2012. I think both manufacturers can even vie for the same title of the decade. Just remember the idea of Nokia to promote its phones by sending spam SMS to iPhone owners. When the companies are going down their actions become utterly insane.
It is well documented that Google used Java and its open API for the development of Android. Google never denied the fact and their cooperation with SUN was business like although not exactly friendly. During various functions SUN underlined how much Google did for Java, but everything changed when Oracle bought Sun and their lawyers found patent infringement in Google actions. In the August of 2010 Oracle went to the court to ban the use of their technologies and receive monetary compensation. Lawyers were adamant that Google used a free Java technology to create a free product Java creators couldn't compete. Later on Oracle dropped this accusation as damaging their company image, but still wants Google to pay one billion dollars and sign licence agreements, which will make Android not a free platform even if someone else will pay for it.
It is a serious issue we cannot cover extensively in the Spillikins. I waited for the trial to start and then publish a large article in two sections. The fight is deadly serious. On one side we have a “good” company supporting the free nature of its OS, while the other side is taken by a classical corporation, which believes that even its free technologies are not completely free. There is a surprising number of intriguing details in the case. For example, Google presented documents describing Android prior to its factual launch. They contain images of phones and planned tariff plans.
How do you like this Google handset? The concept never went to production and the same applies to the next one.
During the proceedings we saw the proposed Android in its initial incarnation, which never happened though.
Camera and video
I think if we offer a brief description of the case we will not give it justice. A thorough research is required here. The trial results may change the mobile phones universe. We cannot rule out such dramatic consequences. I hope the first section of the article will appear this week.
Google sells Galaxy Nexus now for 399 dollars plus tax in the US and also gives 10 dollars in Google Wallet. It is not a promotion campaign, but a regular price, which will soon be replaced as an Android flagship by Galaxy S3.
In terms of market trends the depreciation of Android devices is both positive and negative. Those who got Galaxy Nexus as soon as possible had to pay for being able to enjoy Android 4 early on, but others can now snap up an excellent phone for the right price.
In other countries prices can be different. Anyway, Google is ready to pressurize their partners (first of all, HTC) to have a price consistency across the Android range. Google aspires to regulate the prices and this particular approach is quite useful for the fortunes of Android. It is not clear who and when will be able to rival the platform, which is going from strength to strength.
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Published 05 May 2012
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