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China Unicom preps in-house Wophone OS despite Android, iOS

updated 06:20 pm EST, Mon February 28, 2011

China Unicom tries hand at own custom phone OS

China Unicom on Monday broadcast its plans to develop its own phone OS. Wophone, named after the company's Wo service, would run a custom version of Linux and target both smartphones and tablets. The strategy would help phones get to market faster by being already tailor-made for the Chinese, it said.

Accordingly, the OS already has an early government blessing from both the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the National Development and Reform Commission. Mainland Chinese phone makers Huawei and ZTE are onboard, as are Taiwan's HTC and more remote companies such as Motorola and Samsung.

Wophone's launch would come in spite of China Unicom's own commitment to other platforms. It remains the only carrier selling the iPhone in China and is unique in having access to many of the same Android devices as other countries through its use of the same HSPA and WCDMA 3G technology as much of the world. A custom OS could risk creating a conflict of interest by encouraging it to promote its own OS over others.

The move would also come in spite of historical patterns. China Mobile tried developing its own custom version of Android, OPhone, but has had little impact. It was at first delayed and has mostly been limited to Lenovo.

China Unicom is also acting with little time to spare as competition comes in. Apple has hinted at making a prepay-friendly iPhone that would be targeted at conquering the Chinese market, and domestic companies are still committed to supporting Android through phones such as the ZTE Skate.

by MacNN Staff



  1. SockRolid

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yet more bad news for droid

    First iPhone breaks into droid's last safe haven: Verizon. Now China Unicom will hit them in droid's highest-growth market: China.

    Oh well, there's always Botswana.

  1. coffeetime

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Next thing you know...

    Botswana will have its own BotswanaPhoneOS also. Can't win.

  1. MacnnReader

    Joined: Dec 1969


    sneaky runaround of apples trademark

    In chinese, w*** is the first person pronoun, i. So it's the iPhone in chinese. heh. Have they no shame? I think I'll wait for the Mexican YoPhoneo. Or maybe the Russian YaPhoneSki. Or perhaps the French, JeSurrenderPhone.

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