China Unicom launches domestically developed

15:35, March 01, 2011      

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China Unicom officially launched its cell phone operating system called the "Wophone" Monday, which marks the first cell phone operating system developed in China, according to a press release from the company Monday.

Cell phone producers including Motorola, HTC, TCL, Huawei and Samsung will offer devices under the Wophone brand, the press release said.

The Wophone operating system is based on the Linux system. Wophones will be priced at 1,000 yuan ($152.08) to 2,000 yuan ($304.15), targeting low- to medium-price seeking consumers.

The company has won over a big part of high-end cell phone users through its cooperation with Apple Inc last year, and industry analysts said that the company's move could help them get ahead in the market leftover.

"Medium- and low-end smartphones will be a new driving force for the industry, since this group of people now also shows a growing interest in smartphones as their incomes increase," said Shen Zheyi, research director in the mobile devices and consumer services group at research firm Gartner.

Throughout the world, smart phones have reported robust growth. In 2010, smart phone sales were up 72.1 percent from 2009 and accounted for 19 percent of total mobile device sales in 2010, according to an earlier report from research firm Gartner.

China Unicom's total 3G users topped 154 million at the end of last month, while January alone saw 1.4 million more 3G users sign on.

Although the deal with Apple Inc brought more users to the company, it also cost a lot.

According to a statement from the company recently, net profit attributable to the company's shareholders shrank over 50 percent in 2010 to 1.57 billion yuan ($238.83 million).

Ji Chendong, an IT analyst with Frost & Sullivan, commented that the monthly reimbursement China Unicom offers to each iPhone user is a major reason behind the company's decreasing net profit.

Ji further pointed out that China Unicom's new Wophone could help to promote the company's 3G network known as WCDMA, which still does not enjoy absolute advantage in the competition with China Mobile and China Telecom's 3G network.

In the worldwide smartphone operating system market, Symbian rank first with a market share of 37.6 percent. And Android moved into the No.2 position by growing more than 800 percent in 2010. The Mac OS system which iPhones use ranked fourth with a market share of 15.7 percent, said the Gartner report.

Source: Global Times
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