China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU) is believed to have joined the Open Handset Alliance , a move that's likely to spawn another new mobile device operating system (OS) and another iPhone wannabe (the uPhone), and increase the range of Android terminals being produced by device vendors.
According to this Interfax report, China Unicom is developing its own OS and handset combo to rival China Mobile Communications Corp. 's Ophone and, of course, the iPhone. (See An O for an I?)
Unicom's OS, dubbed UniPlus, is believed to be in the early stages of development, but is being fast-tracked to keep pace with China Mobile's offering.
The same report claims that China Telecom Corp. Ltd. (NYSE: CHA) is doing something similar, as all three operators see the OS as central to their 3G service offerings.
This raises the question: Which of the remaining vowels will China Telecom use for its smartphone -- a or e?
Two of the main driving forces behind these developments appear to be tight control of the OS and the need to keep costs down in a price-sensitive market. As the operators build out their 3G networks and start to develop mobile broadband applications and services, the ultra-open Android platform could well be used as a base for proprietary mobile operating systems under the tight control of the operators.
— Catherine Haslam, Asia Editor, Light Reading