Samsung Electronics plans to launch the first smartphone based on its own operating system in coming weeks, as it seeks to catch up with bigger rivals in the booming high-end market, an executive said on Wednesday.

You need a proprietary system to drive growth in the smartphone market and bada will do the job, as it is designed to support all segments from low to high end, Lee Ho-soo, head of Samsung's smartphone operating system, said at the Reuters Global Technology Summit.

Bada, which means ocean in Korean, is at the heart of Samsung's drive to emulate success by the likes of Apple and RIM in the fast-growing smartphone market, develop new revenue sources from its own Samsung App store, and create synergies with other businesses such as its TV business, which is the world's biggest.

But it is still a daunting task to attract third-party developers as Samsung is not yet a big player in smartphones and its volume is also diluted by its multiplatform strategy.

Samsung, which also produces smartphones based on Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows Mobile, plans to introduce one third of its smartphone offerings this year with the bada system.

We have a very strong response from application developers... and we see strong potential in bada to become a major operating system, said the executive vice president who took charge of Samsung's Media Solution Center two years ago to develop its own smartphone system.

Lee said Samsung planned to launch bada smartphones in coming weeks in Britain and Germany and also open its own app store in June to provide contents for its bada smartphone users.

Samsung is the world's No.2 mobile phone market with some 20 percent market share but it has a little traction in the smartphone market and is making a big push to treble smartphone sales to around 18 million units this year.

Lee, who joined Samsung in 2005 after 20 years with IBM, said Samsung had no immediate plan to open its operating system to other manufacturers such as Nokia.

(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Nick Macfie)