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1/17/2012
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Samsung Undecided About Mixing Bada, Tizen

Samsung says reported marriage between two open-source mobile operating systems not yet a done deal.

Samsung has not yet decided whether it will be integrating its bada mobile operating system with Tizen, a new open-source mobile operating system backed by Intel.

Samsung SVP Tae-Jin Kang told Forbes that efforts to integrate bada with Tizen are underway.

But Samsung says it has yet to decide about merging the two projects. "Samsung and other members of [the] Tizen Association have not made a firm decision regarding the merge of bada and Tizen," a company spokesperson told InformationWeek in an emailed statement. "We are carefully looking at it as an option to make the platforms serve better for customers."

Open source developer Carsten Haitzler offers a slightly different interpretation on a Tizen mailing list: Tizen is implementing Bada APIs, which will allow Bada Apps to be recompiled to run on Tizen devices.

Bada, says Samsung, is an essential part of the company's multi-platform portfolio, and "will continue to play an important role in democratizing smartphone experience in all markets." The company says it will continue to support open-source development in conjunction with other industry organizations.

[ Are smartphones overrated as productivity tools? Read Smartphone Keyboards Vs. Your Productivity. ]

Introduced in 2010 and upgraded to version 2.0 in 2011, bada is a platform layer that combines various open-source software packages for mobile devices, under a handful of different licenses. It can accommodate different operating system kernels, but can be thought of as an operating system for the sake of convenience.

To date, bada has shipped on several million phones, such as the Samsung Wave 3. It's not widely distributed compared to Android OS (which is seeing over 700,000 activations per day,) iOS, BlackBerry OS, or Symbian.

Tizen was only made available to developers last week, through the release of preview versions of the operating system and the SDK.

Deutsche Bank research analyst Jonathan Goldberg is skeptical that a combination of bada and Tizen will make waves in the mobile market. In an email, he noted that Samsung has multiple operating system commitments and that Intel has not done well in the mobile arena. It's "unclear why Tizen will appeal to developers any more than than Meego, Moblin, Maemo or LiMo did," he said.

In a research note issued on Monday, Goldberg also said that Intel continues to face challenges getting handset makers to use its Atom chips in mobile devices. "Our checks continue to indicate that no other handset vendor thinks that Intel's Atom is appropriate for mobile usage," he wrote. "They cite power consumption, technical support, interoperability, and carrier test requirements as areas where Intel falls behind." Thus Intel may have trouble marshaling enthusiasm for Tizen, Goldberg notes.

The impact of bada and Tizen could increase in the years ahead if patent licensing fees end up making Android significantly more expensive for handset makers.

But at the moment, bada and Tizen don't have much developer support--and that's unlikely to change until they're present on hundreds of millions of phones.

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