Samsung to open source Bada next year. Will they use Meego to do it?

According to Wall Street Journal, Samsung is planning to open source their Bada smartphone platform next year.

Companies that do have their own successful proprietary platforms are no it usually too eager to start giving them away in hopes that outside developers will make it better in exchange. Companies who’s platforms do fail to take off or get into trouble, on the other hand, sometime do try to turn to the open source community for help. Sometimes these efforts work and result in a successful product (e.g. Netscape Navigator turned Firefox), sometimes they end in disaster – e.g. Nokia’s Symbian experiment. However, even in Netscape case – it wasn’t the actual open sourced code, but the community created in the process that built Firefox browser from scratch, without much help from Netscape. And it took years of stale browser competition for Firefox to emerge, while Netscape’s corporate owner reaped very few benefits from open sourcing.

So Samsung’s hints about Bada open sourcing plans next year does not sound like a sign of strength. When we combine this with Samsung’s apparent failure to achieve its own publicly announced goal to ship 10 million Bada phones in the first half of 2011, their own platform efforts do not look so successful anymore. But I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to see what happens.

But how will Samsung go about open sourcing of Bada?

Bada is not an operating system itself. It is middleware, application framework and user interface layers running on top of Mentor Graphics owned Nucleus real time operating system kernel. Open Sourcing Bada without the operating system kernel makes little sense. But the current kernel is not owned by Samsung and will not be opened.

Fortunately for them, Bada was designed to be more or less independent from the underlying mobile OS. According to some company reps I talked to, they can replace the current RTOS kernel with Linux based mobile OS whenever they chose to do so. What they forgot to mention is that Samsung has to have a suitable Linux based mobile OS to put underneath Bada. But they do not have one, and mobile OS is not a trivial thing to develop.

And here’s where it gets interesting. What if Samsung teams up with Intel to put Meego kernel underneath Bada platform?

There were rumors that Intel is suspending Meego development for now, and Meego’s non-appearance during Intel Developer Forum last week seemed to confirm that. But then Steve “Chippy” Pane has published his impressions about Meego from IDF. And I started having some doubts. According to him:

No-one in Intel that’s involved with Meego is talking Meego. There’s no Meego conference planned yet, there was no Meego representation in the IDF technology showcase and I even heard a ‘watch this space’ comment in one of the technical sessions. Everyone is keeping their mouths shut tight. Something is going on.

If Meego was cancelled or suspended at Intel – there will be quite a few disgruntled employees, ready to spill the beans, and we would have heard something by now. But we have silence instead.

What if it’s for a good reason? What if this reason is that Samsung has decided to use Meego to replace Nucleus as an OS underneath the Bada? Samsung really needs a stronger underlying OS to give Bada a chance of competing with Android and Windows Phone. After Nokia defection, Intel desperately needs a smartphone hardware partner to keep Meego alive in mobile space. Among various flavors of Linux – Meego is the best there is for smartphones, and Samsung is the best hardware partner Intel can get for its mobile ambitions. Intel’s Meego on Samsung’s Bada phones looks like a match made in heaven. At least on paper, we’ll have to wait and see what happens in real life.

But, even if Samsung decides to go with Meego, the current Meego on smartphones branch is still at a near death. Without active Nokia support, there is no one to push it forward. And Sammy has no reason to do it either.  Swipe interface that was such a hit on N9-  is a proprietary Nokia thing, as is a lot of other smartphone related stuff that went into the Meego/Harmattan.

Intel may have tried to buy Meego assets from Fins, but Nokia did not sell – so a lot of things that went into N9 won’t be making the transition to Samsung. And I seriously doubt that Qt will make it onto Bada phones too. Mobile Qt is still controlled by Nokia, and Samsung will not trade its dependence on a still more or less neutral Google, to a dependence on one of its main rivals.

Samsung smartphones may get Meego core, but they will be much more Bada then Meego phones, with their own UI, SDK, app store and other distinct Samsung features.

Will it work? At this point I have some very serious doubts. Buts lets wait and see, and hope Samsung is up to the task to make Meego/Bada a success. The more competition we have out there – the better off we, users, are.



Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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  • Anonymous

    Does Bada needs a such huge stack as MeeGo to run? Wouldn’t a Linaro kernel enough, as Bada more likely provides all the UI layer on to of the OS? I guess there are some overlaping between Meego and Bada stacks.

  • Smealy4542

    One of the most unintelligible articles on the Internet. I understand that “rush” is the name of the game for on-line article publishing and time constraints are constant but really:

    “Companies that do have their own successful proprietary platforms are no it usually too eager to start giving them away in hopes that outside developers will make it better in exchange.” qualifies as more than gibberish?

    I am the first to admit that English is not my strong point but the author is making money writing so at least try to read what is written before publishing. The broken English appears throughout the article and although there are some interesting points, trying to get through the article was painful.

  • JMR

    I have to admit that this article was poorly done.  Meego is far from dead, and the rumors of Intel canceling or suspending Meego has also been debunked.

    In reality Intel will not stop supporting Meego as they need a way to properly build drivers for their chips on Linux based Operating Systems.  MS is not planning to support Intel’s future chipsets for the Mobile and embedded hardware.  This being said, Intel needs to keep their Chips running smoothly on the *nix based systems.  This is why they are teaming up with Google and making plans to use the Android OS as this OS runs on the Linux Kernel. And Meego is making it possible for Intel to accomplish this feat.  Intel is actually neutral when it comes of software, they are a hardware company.

    I don’t think that many have heard the latest from Intel, but they finally came out and stated that Nokia set them back six months, but they have caught up.

    “We finally got it right. We lost six months because of Nokia but we’re back up and running, so watch this space.”

    “MeeGo is alive and well in our embedded systems. It is the OS of choice
    for the automotive industry and we are working with hardware vendors
    around the world to optimize it for tablets and phones. Everybody likes
    open and that was the value proposition of MeeGo from day one.”

    “The smartphone business is not established in terms of who is going to
    win and who is going to lose, good products on good platforms can shift
    the industry.”

    I personally think that Samsung and HTC would benefit greatly, if they chose to use the Meego OS.

  • Jessica

    to attract more attentions, I think Samsung need more open sources.

  • Ammm

    Why you say MeeGo????!!!!
    Samsung said has no plans to emlpoy other OSes (webos or meego)!!!
    only needs to linux kernel for open their platform (bada)
    such as android

    *sorry for my bad english…

  • Anonymous

    Samsung will not touch meego.

    1. Samsung denied because It is a open source.
    If samsung want it, they can copy and paste its code freely.
    “Samsung said it can’t buy the MeeGo from Intel because the platform is open-source”

    2. They don’t need 4th OS. Android, Bada, Windows… Supporting 3 OSs enough already. More multiple OS supports are waste of their R&D resource. Unlike Android, the meego OS have completely no market share. If i am a Samsung, I rather choose Bada OS over another garbage OS. If they have money for that, They rather put their money for ‘perfecting’ their OS rather than buy a unknown OS.

  • Staska

    I am not saying Samsung will use the full Meego OS. Only their Meego kernel, the rest will be Bada

  • Staska

    There is a huge difference between buying something and using something. 

    I was not talking about Samsung buying Meego, only Samsung making a deal with Intel to use Meego kernel under Bada OS. Probably in exchange of launching some Samsung smartphones with Intel chips.

    And please try to read an article before commenting. Bada is not an OS. It’s UI, app framework and some middleware layer running on top of third party Nucleus OS kernel. I am talking replacing Nucleus  with Meego kernel