By 1 March 2011 | Categories: news


China Unicom, one of the three largest mobile operators in China, yesterday announced plans to introduce a new mobile operating system (OS) to compete with Apple's iOS and Google's Android in the Chinese market.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the new mobile OS currently in development will be known as “WoPhone”, will be based on Linux, and will be geared towards smartphones and tablet devices.
A number of manufacturers have already displayed interest to build devices utilising the new OS, including China's ZTE, Huawei Technologies and TCL. International manufacturers have followed suit, with South Korean Samsung, U.S.-based Motorola and Taiwanese HTC announcing that they will be launching devices using the new OS.
And while China Unicom might have some ambitious plans, it's still far behind on subscriber count compared to the largest player in the Chinese market, China Mobile. China Unicom had 169.7 million subscribers as of January, while China Mobile sported 589.3 million.
It is however clear that a huge gap in the Chinese mobile OS market currently exists, with Android and iOS gaining ground much slower than in Western markets. At present, Nokia's Symbian OS still sports the largest market share, with 60.1% of the smartphone segment, compared to Android and iOS with 10.7% and 5.4% respectively. And given Symbian's recent demise, this leaves quite a swath of Chinese smartphones without an OS come upgrade time. 
At present, China Unicom’s WoPhone OS is scheduled for Chinese distribution only, but as we’ve seen with Android’s meteoric rise, it doesn’t take long for a smartphone OS to catch on.


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