Samsung Courts Developers With Conference

Samsung's inaugural Global Developers Conference is open for registration.
Samsung has begun accepting registrants for its first annual Global Developers Conference, which will take place in San Francisco, October 27-29.

In so doing, the electronic giant demonstrates that it is ready to adopt the priorities declared dramatically several years back by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: "Developers, developers, developers!" Not content simply to be a leading mobile device manufacturer, Samsung wants to build a software ecosystem around its hardware, as Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft have done before it.

Courting developers doesn't guarantee success: BlackBerry and Nokia both have developer programs and events, and both have struggled to maintain their platforms. Mozilla has just undertaken the challenge of convincing developers to create Web apps for its Firefox OS, and it remains to be seen whether the uncharacteristic openness of Firefox OS will be enough to entice developers who typically look for audience size and revenue potential.

[ What happens to Microsoft's mobile aspirations now that CEO Ballmer is leaving? Read Microsoft's Big Risk As Ballmer Departs: Windows Phone. ]

But attracting and maintaining developer interest is necessary for companies that want others to add value to their products.

Samsung has already made some missteps with regard to developers. Its Bada mobile operating system, introduced in 2010, never really took off with developers or consumers. In February, the company said it would stop developing Bada and focus on Tizen, an open source mobile operating system backed by the Linux Foundation, Intel and Samsung.

Tizen will be the subject of several sessions at Samsung's Global Developer Conference.

WonPyo Hong, president of the Samsung Media Solution Center, pitches the conference as a place where developers can come and learn how to create, advertise and sell software and services that touch Samsung's broad range of products -- mobile and otherwise. He characterizes the event as an opportunity to innovate amid a proliferation of devices.

Carlos Icaza, co-founder and CEO of Lanica, maker of the Platino game development platform, said in an email that Samsung hasn't been a developer-focused company in the past, noting that its role with developers conferences has tended to be as a sponsor.

"For Samsung to have and run a developers conference means a few things," Icaza said in an email. "First, they realize that the developers are key to the ecosystem. Second, this developers conference can be seen as the first salvo against Google Android."

That's not to say Samsung is declaring independence from Google and Android. Rather, it's a declaration of potential independence: It's a reminder to Google that it has other options and is an effort to make those options more realistic. It's a bid for a better bargaining position during any relevant negotiations with Google.

It's also an effort to establish Samsung as the leading light in the Android firmament, a title that Google is vying for with its Nexus line. "Samsung knows it is the principal distributor of Android and it knows that it needs to offer a significantly better experience on Android than any other Android device maker," said Icaza.

Samsung's Global Developers Conference will be held at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. Over 40 sessions have been scheduled, focusing on new Samsung SDKs, APIs and Web services. There will also be presentations on gaming and B2B development. Tickets cost $299.