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OS Watch: Korea Builds Its Own OS

Sarah Thomas
8/26/2011

The Korean government is trying its hand at mobile software as it begins work on a new operating system to secure the competitive future of its its hometown handset makers: Samsung Corp. and LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) .

The Korea Herald says the government will launch its own open-source OS before the end of the year to combat Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s growing dominance and to safeguard against Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), which works with LG and Samsung, but is looking less impartial as it buys Motorola Mobility LLC . (See Google Plays Favorites With Moto Buy.)

It's a cool idea, but a long shot, says Current Analysis analyst Peter Jarich. Samsung hasn't been successful with its own OS, bada, and it'll take a lot of effort to build a new one from scratch. The upside, however, is that Samsung and LG can throw their weight behind it without alienating their other partners -- Android and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows Phone.

"If you're Samsung or LG, the government is doing it on your behalf," Jarich says. "They can say 'hey, Microsoft, we're not threatening you, it's the government.'"

Of course, the Korean government might have just considered buying webOS, the OS HP Inc. (NYSE: HPQ) is shopping around, but Jarich says it'd likely rather start from scratch with its own cloud-focused, patent-lawsuit-free operating system. (See HP Shuts Down WebOS Device Biz.)

  • Samsung really doesn't want HP PSG: Another reason that the Korean government may not be looking at webOS is that Samsung has made it clear it wants nothing to do with HP -- or at least its Personal Systems Group.

    Samsung was slated as a potential acquirer of the PC and mobile devices group, but the company has issued not one, but two, statements saying it doesn't want the business, calling it an "infeasible and imprudent" move. The statements did not, however, directly address webOS. Samsung, third time's the charm? (See OS Watch: Who Wants WebOS?)

  • No Galaxy S II for Verizon: One thing Samsung did want, but isn't getting, is distribution of its popular Galaxy S II phone through Verizon Wireless . The carrier tells The Wall Street Journal that it won't be carrying the phone, thought to be the iPhone 5's biggest competitor, after it launches stateside. Its Android lineup is already robust enough, it says. AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. are all reportedly on board, though. (See Samsung & Nokia Push Midrange Smartphones.)
  • First Windows Phone unveiled: Moving back to Asia, Japan will get the world's first Mango-flavored Windows Phone device, the Fujitsu Toshiba IS12T, on wireless operator KDDI Corp. . Microsoft finished work on the Mango OS this week, but hasn't said when other countries will get their first taste. (See Mango Is a Go.)

  • QNX gets some Android love: Speaking of waiting on mobile OSs, smartphones based on BlackBerry 's upcoming QNX OS will include the ability to run Android apps, sources tell Bloomberg. RIM also added differential updates to the QNX-based PlayBook tablet this week, meaning future updates can just be applied to the affected feature without requiring a software download. Some of those future updates will include dedicated email and BlackBerry Messenger come September. (See RIM Ties Music to BlackBerry Messenger.)

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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