The Smartphone Winner You Don't Know About

Market research firm Gartner just released its latest quarterly report on mobile phone sales. Some of the changes in the report are just obvious extensions of long-established trends -- Android crushes everybody, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) plays the clear second fiddle across the globe, Nokia (NYSE: NOK  ) and Research In Motion (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) keep falling toward total oblivion.

But if you read a little further, it seems like market leader Samsung has a solid Plan B in case the Android joyride ever ends.

The Korean company has developed its own smartphone software, based on a mishmash of open-source solutions. It's called Bada and sold under the Samsung Wave brand. You won't find these in your local AT&T (NYSE: T  ) or Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) store, because Sammy mostly ships them to emerging markets, letting the Android-based Galaxy line do the heavy lifting in more affluent markets like America.

But according to Gartner, Samsung's backup plan is a major hit already. With only two and a half years of market history, the Bada platform shipped on 5 million handsets last quarter. Sales doubled year over year, passing Nokia's Symbian solution and Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) Windows Phone along the way. Another year like that and Bada will pass RIM's formerly addictive BlackBerry system. Given BlackBerry's hasty decline, the crossing point will probably come even sooner.

And when that happens, Bada becomes the third most popular smartphone platform in the world. It's growing faster than Apple's iOS and keeps pace with Android, just from a lower starting point. I wouldn't be surprised to see Samsung Wave phones eventually making their way to America, probably through prepaid service providers such as MetroPCS (NYSE: TMUS  ) and Leap Wireless (NASDAQ: LEAP  ) at first and presented as a low-cost alternative to high-end iPhones and Androids.

This market changes so fast, it's hard to keep up. Blink and you'd miss Bada's rise to power, for example.

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Read/Post Comments (4) | Recommend This Article (3)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2012, at 6:21 PM, infektu wrote:

    Bada is feature-phone like.

    The day when a hodge-podge will perform better than OS-s in which ten times more work went it will be a grand day for software engineering.

    I will then be able to write in a week a chess game which will beat Kasparov.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2012, at 8:55 PM, lucasmonger wrote:

    Nobody said that Bada phones were great phones. Just that they are selling well, because there are a whole lot of people in the world who cannot afford a high-end phone

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2012, at 4:23 AM, H3D wrote:

    "Android crushes everybody, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) plays the clear second fiddle across the globe"

    Strange, I thought TMF was about money and investments.

    I would expects to see the above comment is "Budget Smartphone User Weekly".

    But in TMF, Apple is the clear leader with the lions share of the profits.

    Android is so far behind that they have to give it away to get users.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2012, at 10:21 PM, llIlllIlllIlllIl wrote:

    Nokia's Asha followed by the budget end of their Windows Phones (1xx to 6xx is budget) far exceeds Samsung's Bada offering. Two reasons: First is quality of operating system. Second is emerging (and third world) markets need more than a low price point, they need a device that will not break, and will last several years of normal usage plus general abuse. Samsung simply cannot compete on quality with Nokia, an area where Nokia has proven itself for two decades already.

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