Samsung Launches Phones And ChatON IM Service

Samsung has released details of its new Bada-based Wave handsets, as well as the ChatON IM service

Samsung has launched three new smartphones and its own instant messaging service, called ChatON, to compete with BlackBerry Messenger.

The Wave 3, Wave M and Wave Y phones all run Bada 2.0, the latest version of Samsung’s own Bada operating system, and are aimed at businesses and consumers. The ChatON messaging service, revealed in a YouTube video includes group chat, animated messages and other features, and goes up against RIM’s BlackBerry Messaging (BBM) service.

Three Bada phones

The flagship Wave 3 has a 1.4GHz processor and a 4-inch AMOLED screen, with 3GB of memory as standard – and room for 32GB in its microSD slot. The phone itself is 9.9mm thick, and has a 5 Megapixel camera.

The social-focused Wave M has a 3.65-inch screen and is the first phone to include the ChatON service. The “youth” (ie. cheap) oriented Wave Y also has ChatON.

All three phones have metallic bodies, and feature Samsung’s Social Hub and Music Hub. They also all have multi-tasking, Wi-Fi Direct (a peer-to-peer version of Wi-Fi for direct communication between devices), voice recognition and the option of Near Field Communication (NFC) for contactless payments.

ChatON – proprietary but cross-platform

Samsung’s ChatON is a proprietary system, but Samsung says it will be cross-platform, working on Android and other phones. It includes group chat, animated messages, and the ability to link to web content. ChatON will also be available on Samsung’s feature phones.

Despite the existence of open web-based messaging, proprietary services such as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and Apple iMessage and the iMessenger app which accesses it have become popular as they offer a free and more immediate channel for communications. In BlackBerry’s case, this has led to allegations that BBM was used to organise looting in England earlier this month, and some governments have expressed fears of BBM-based subversion. Like ChatON, BBM is intended to become open, with BBM clients planned for Android and iOS.

Meanwhile, Samsung’s Bada operating system, launched in 2009, is intended as a competitor to Android and iOS, and it is available under the Wave user interface which Samsung also adds to Android phones.

Bada could soon become embroiled in techno-politics, as the South Korean government has urged its leading national mobile device makers, Samsung and LG, to abandon Google’s Android OS in favour of a home-grown alternative, after Google bought Motorola Mobility and became a handset competitor.

Android devices have also been hit heavily by patent suits from Apple, with Samsung’s tablets nearly banned from Europe. Microsoft has also asked for royalties on Samsung’s Android phones.

Samsung is also widely believed to be behind the rumoured Android tablet from Amazon. Despite any formal announcement from Android, this has been predicted to sell 5 million units this autumn.