China Unicom announces ‘Wophone’ OS

China Unicom has announced the development of its own smartphone operating system built on a Linux core. The ‘Wophone’ OS, which reports claim will not be based on Android, will run on a new brand of devices which, it is hoped, will help China Unicom expand its handset offering in order to grow demand for its 3G services.

Samsung, Motorola, HTC, Huawei and ZTE are among the manufacturers said to be set to offer devices based on the new platform. Unicom, which described the launch of the new device as “imminent”, said the operating system is aimed at “smart terminals” and will help to shorten product development cycles for mobile phone manufacturers.

Research undertaken by Analysys reveals that Nokia’s Symbian platform continues to dominate the Chinese market, with just over 60 percent of market share, despite the growth of interest in iPhone and Android offerings. In 2009, Unicom rival China Mobile launched its own mobile platform, “OPhone”, which failed to garner much interest.

Unicom said it had the backing of Chinese government agencies including the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology but declined to comment on speculation that the attempt to sidestep Android was motivated by the Chinese government’s high-profile dispute with Google last year. Google moved its Chinese search operations to Hong Kong because of censorship and hacking concerns.

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