Another Day, Another Platform

Im at Vinopolis in London, where Samsung Mobile has just officially launched its bada platform, wheeling out a procession of big cheeses, both from its own company and from partners including Twitter, Gameloft and Blockbuster, to herald the launch of what Samsung is calling An invitation to adventure.
Samsung says the idea behind bada is to bring Smartphones to everyone, with a range of handsets, at a  range of different prices, that are easy to use and distributed globally. It aims to encourage developers with a dedicated website, SDK and a Developer Challenge, with $2.7 million (1.7 million) prize money up for grabs. The touch-screen handsets, meanwhile, will benefit from stylish design, an intuitive user interface, and neat features like location-based social networking facilities. The first handset will arrive in the first half of 2010, with more to follow later in the year.
So far, so upbeat. And yet, is it just me, or is that the sound of a developer groaning I can hear in the background? As a maker of mobile phones, Samsung is probably not too concerned about the world of mobile marketing, but at the Heroes of the Mobile Screen conference yesterday, when I canvassed opinion among delegates as to what the big issues in mobile currently are, the word fragmentation came up again and again.
So as a developer, you have the iPhone, you have Android, you have Symbian, you have Windows Mobile, you have Linux. And now you also have bada. And there are a few more proprietary platforms for good measure too. So just how is anyone supposed to make a sensible decision about which platform or platforms to develop for? For a brand looking to get into mobile, meanwhile, bada, whatever the intrinsic merits of the platform, is one more reason to spend their money somewhere else. It does make me wonder whether, in the apps versus browser debate, every new platform that comes along is another nail in the apps camps coffin.

David Murphy