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Samsung's iOS rival gets multitasking and HTML5

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Samsung has launched the next version of its own mobile platform Bada, bringing multitasking, HTML5 and a new advertising engine to Bada developers.

Bada developers can now download the SDK and start getting used to the new, scalable UI elements, push notifications, and the aforementioned multitasking and in-app adverts, but they'll have to wait for handsets before they'll be able to sell any of their enhanced v2 apps.

Samsung's Bada has been a simmering success for the company – Canalys reckons Samsung has shipped 4.5 million Bada handsets since launch, while Samsung claims to have seen more than 100 million downloads of the 40,000 applications in its application store (though Samsung's store also contains apps for its Android handsets).

Bada is an entirely closed platform, aping the Apple infrastructure in that the manufacturer retains complete control over the platform and application distribution. Purists may object, but Bada offers the same advantages as iOS in an integrated and simple experience for end users, and while the handsets might be less slick than their Cupertino equivalents they're also a good deal cheaper.

Next step in emulating the success of iOS is to get in-application advertising organised. Very few Bada applications use embedded advertising at the moment, so Bada 2 comes with a standard API for doing just that. But Samsung isn't going to start selling advertising space, instead it will provide a conduit to InMobi and other mobile advertising providers so developers do deals with the usual providers but use a standard API to implement them.

That means Samsung won't take much (if any) revenue from advertising, but it is probably treading carefully given Apple's failure to change the world with iAd.

The new layouts are a response to the fragmentation of the platform (despite Samsung being the only company making Bada handsets). Developers now have to support three different resolutions (running up to 480x800 and down to a quarter of that) so get some new tools to create resolution-independent applications.

There's also support for NFC and Push Notifications, which can now trigger applications to be run. Bada is also embracing the Wholesale Application Community (WAC) standards in supporting HTML5 and JavaScript for local applications – which is good news for the WAC as no one else seems interested in it.

Given the furore surrounding Android at the moment – and Google's decision to get into the hardware game with Motorola – Samsung must be quite happy to have another platform lurking in the wings ready to take up the baton should it fall. And even if it doesn't, the Bada platform will continue to achieve surprising sales among those who don't know an Android from a Replicant and just want a cheap smartphone. ®

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