& cplSiteName &

China Unicom to Target Google, Apple

Sarah Thomas

China Unicom Ltd. (NYSE: CHU) is taking on Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) by building its own operating system, "Wophone," designed for smartphones and tablets on its 3G network.

Samsung Corp. , Motorola Mobility LLC , High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498), ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763), Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and TCL Mobile Communication Co. Ltd. have all committed to building smartphones for the new platform.

Google has its own Android derivative, Tapas, for the China market, but a rep for China Unicom tells The Wall Street Journal that Wophone will not be based on the open-source platform. Rather, it will feature a Linux core optimized for smartphones and tablets and will expedite time to market for phone makers, the carrier claims. (See OS Watch: RIM Regrets & iPhone Instructions .)

China Unicom also hosts its own mobile app store, WoStore, that it makes available to devices sporting any OS.

Why this matters
Wireless operators building their own OSes, smartphones or both is a trend that is catching on in China and other parts of the world, including with Smart Communications Inc. , the largest wireless operator in The Philippines. China Unicom's much larger competitor, China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), launched the Android-based "OPhone" in 2009, but the platform hasn't yet proved popular with consumers. (See OS Watch: LG Gives Android a Dual Core and Smart Success for WAC.)

In China, where most subscribers are on 2G, the operators are exploring this route to lure users to their new, more profitable 3G networks. Symbian Ltd. -based handsets are still the most common in China too, accounting for just over 60 percent of the 102.3 million smartphones in use in China as of the fourth quarter, according to Analysys , but Android is gaining in popularity.

China Unicom may have a tough time competing with Android rather than opting to lean on it for its software stack. Its chances are improved, however, by the fact that 3G smartphones are still a relatively new category in the country. How it differentiates and supports Wophone, as well as how it provides incentive for developers to build for its platform, will weigh heavily on its chances for smartphone success.

For more
Mobile operating systems have become as important as -- if not more important than -- the handsets themselves. Check out our past "OS Watch" features for more on how the market is shaping up.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Related Stories
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
12/5/2012 | 5:11:40 PM
re: China Unicom to Target Google, Apple

Will you take the risk to use a mobile being tapped by its OS all the time? Surely not!

12/5/2012 | 5:11:39 PM
re: China Unicom to Target Google, Apple

Unicom first started talking about this in May 2009, when the OS was dubbed UniPlus -- see

OS Free-For-All



12/5/2012 | 5:11:36 PM
re: China Unicom to Target Google, Apple

When a chinese company declares that it is going to develop its own mobile OS, the rest of the world knows exactly what it means - hire a few good Huawei engineers, reverse engineer the Android OS, make a few modifications, change the name, and announce the new OS. China Unicom does not have the R&D organization to create a mobile OS from scratch.

I'm sure they have lot of traps in the OS to collect user analytics and feed it to a central location that is monitored by the Government. The new OS must be mandated by the Government.

12/5/2012 | 5:11:19 PM
re: China Unicom to Target Google, Apple

So true. I remember the first time I saw a Huawei manual that still had the Cisco logo on it.

Featured Video
Upcoming Live Events
March 16-18, 2020, Embassy Suites, Denver, Colorado
April 20, 2020, Las Vegas Convention Center
May 18-20, 2020, Irving Convention Center, Dallas, TX
May 18, 2020, Hackberry Creek Country Club, Irving, Texas
September 15-16, 2020, The Westin Westminster, Denver
All Upcoming Live Events
Upcoming Webinars
Webinar Archive
Partner Perspectives - content from our sponsors
Challenges & Key Issues of Constructing 'MEC-Ready' 5G Bearer Networks for Carriers
By Dr. Song Jun, Senior Solution Architect, Huawei Datacom Product Line
Good Measures for 5G Service Assurance
By Tomer Ilan, Senior Director of Product Management, RADCOM
Automation Scores Against Operational Costs – The Business Benefits of Automation and Orchestration
By John Malzahn, Senior Manager, Service Provider Product Marketing, Cisco Systems
All Partner Perspectives