Yesterday at the monthly MobileMonday meeting in Nairobi at the iHub, Samsung made its ambitions to drive local mobile applications development in Kenya known. More specifically, Samsung is keen to grow the uptake of its Bada-powered handsets in Kenya via locally developed and contextually relevant mobile applications.
Bada (which means ocean in Korean) is Samsung’s proprietary smartphone platform that was unveiled earlier this year and to-date has one mobile handset in the form of the Samsung Wave which was launched in Kenya a couple of months ago. The Wave, which is an impressive smartphone featuring a diverse range of novel features has already sold over 3 million units globally since its launch and is available in Kenya for Kes. 29,000.00.
Although the Wave is currently Samsung’s only Bada-powered handset, plans are underway to have 6 handsets on Bada by early 2011 including a model that will retail for below Kes. 10,000.00. In order to drive the adoption of its Bada handsets, Samsung plans to tap into Kenya’s mobile application developer community to develop local mobile applications and content.
This process has already begun since Verviant, a local web development firm was engaged by Samsung to develop 2 local applications for Kenya. The two applications are Sasa, a mobile news application that features content from the popular Kenyan radio station Capital FM and Mpango, a mobile events application that is also location aware.
In order to spur Kenyan mobile application developers to start building on Bada, Samsung also announced a mobile applications competition whereby the top five application developers will be awarded Kes. 200,000.00 each for their efforts. In addition, the mobile applications would be made available on Samsung’s mobile apps store, globally. Samsung will not take any of the revenue made on downloads as these would be shared between the developer and the mobile network operator(s).
In concluding, it would seem that Samsang, through its Bada initiative, is taking what seems to be a counter-intuitive step in the face of better established and fast growing mobile platforms such as Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Nokia’s Symbian. However, as we all know, there is always room for innovation that could change the tide and Bada could be just that. Whatever the case, Samsung also has handsets on Android, Symbian and soon Windows Mobile 7 so they are hedging their bets nevertheless.
NOTE: You can view pictures I took at MobileMonday Kenya yesterday here>