- Update: China Mobile to Improve Smartphone OS With New Alliance [Dec 13]:
… the carrier announced on Monday it was preparing to establish its Ophone Innovation Alliance, said Bill Huang, general manager of the China Mobile Research Institute.
“Our Ophone strategy is constantly moving forward,” Huang said during in a speech at a conference in Beijing. Huang did not give any specific details about the alliance, but encouraged potential partners to participate once more information is publicized. The company has spent over a year planning the alliance.
The announcement follows China Mobile’s effort to promote its OMS in April, when Huang urged developers in Taiwan to build more mobile applications for the operating system. At the time, Huang said there were around 600 apps developed specifically for Ophones. In contrast, Apple’s App Store features more than 300,000 third-party applications.
Building less expensive smartphones without sacrificing quality is critical to China Mobile’s business strategy, Huang added. “If we can effectively make an advanced smartphone less expensive, then more users will come to use China Mobile’s services in a shorter amount of time,” he said.
China Mobile is also working to introduce more middle and higher-end smartphones for its 3G network, said company chairman Wang Jianzhou during a speech at the conference.
While China Mobile may have a relatively small number of applications for OMS, the company’s app store continues to gain in popularity. Since it opened in 2009, the carrier’s Mobile Market has recorded 70 million downloads, Wang said. The store features apps and multimedia downloads for different mobile operating systems.
- Update: Despite of recent reports on weakening OPhone support within China Mobile (see the below update) there are newer reports pointing just to the opposite direction:
– China Mobile to procure 6 million TD-SCMA handsets, says Chinese media [Oct 8]: “Of the total, 3.6 million will be of entry-level models and 2.4 million mid-range products. … the latest procurement effort is largely due to the fourth phase of the China Mobile’s TD-SCMA network construction. When completed, demand for TD-SCMA end-use products is expected to increase substantially.”
– China market: Inexpensive TD-SCDMA handsets to be available in 4Q10 [Oct 13]: “Pushed by China Mobile, TD-SCDMA handsets and smartphones at retail prices of about 500 yuan (US$75) and 1,000 yuan respectively will be available in the China market in the fourth quarter of 2010. … China Mobile is setting up its fourth-phase TD-SCDMA network of more than 100,000 base stations and expects the number of TD-SCDMA subscribers to increase from 13.42 million currently to 100 million in 2012.”
– China Mobile: 4G network coming soon [Sept 15] is stating that “4G data card is close to debut and the carrier and partners are working on the research of 4G handset chip … China Mobile is expected to launch 4G mobile communication services as early as 2011 to boost its high-margin data services, according to the GSM Association.”
– China Mobile to set up device sourcing company [Sept 17] is telling that “The planned device-sourcing company will begin to purchase TD-SCDMA-enabled feature phones with prices below 1,000 yuan (US$148) at the end of the year and then shift to smartphones priced below 2,000 yuan in the first half of 2011“.
- Update: OPhone fails to connect [Aug 24] which reports that with the change of leadership in June all the technology initiatives started under the previous GM and managed by Bill Huang (Huang Xiaoqing), head of China Mobile’s Research Institute, will get less support — this is the case of OPhone — or even have been put on hold — the case of mobile payment project. Reasons are the insufficient progress. The estimations are, for example, that OPhone sales are less than half of the number of iPhones bought in China. Quite important article on what is going inside China Mobile.
• OPhone 2.0 Platform Debuts in Beijing [June 28]
• Samsung first to unveil handset for oPhone 2.0 [June 29] – important to note: “Nokia is also planning a smartphone for the carrier using the oPhone overlay and hardware specs, but running on Symbian.”
• Samsung I7680 (Oscar) parameters – Google translated from Chinese
• The world’s first mobile phone Samsung I7680 evaluation OMS 2.0 [July 1] Google translated from Chinese
• Page 3: Fusion Android 2.1, OMS 2.0 magnificent transfiguration [From Android2.1 transfiguration OPhone2.0 evaluation Samsung I7680] – [5 July] all Google translated from Chinese
- To understand the other parts of the current Android momentum, please read my other two infonuggets as well:
– Beyond Android 2.1 [July 4]
– Android 2.2 (Froyo) excitement is just the tip of the iceberg for the current Android momentum [July 9]
- The mobile Internet technology momentum behind the OPhone OS could be well understood from my another infonugget:
– 3.9G TD-LTE rollout in 2012 with integrated 2G, 3G and 4G? [July 19]
The developer of the platform is the Beijing based Borqs: http://borqs.com/index.jsp. They describe the OPhone OS (short for Open Mobile Phone Operating System) platform here: About OPhone OS. See also the recent interview with their CEO: BORQS Ophone OS & more & the China mobile revolution [May 27], important to note: “Borqs is the only company that has done significant Android customization.”
But the supporter is the world largest mobile phone company: China Mobile wants Android apps for its Ophones [April 7], launching the first version of the platform last year: China Mobile Ophone hopes [Sept 1, 2009], China Mobile Launches OPhone [Sept 1, 2009], China’s first OPhone-based mobile phone hits market [16 Dec, 2009]. The last, OMS 1.5 was Android 1.5 based: OPhone SDK 1.5 New features and API changes ENG.1 [Nov 19, 2009].
Note [updated with June data on July 20]: The 3G customer base of the China Mobile is still embryonic with just 1.9% (10.46 million) of the overall number of customers (554 million) at the end of June 2010. Also this number has not been increased significantly for the last 18 month, as shown by the chart below. Meanwhile the rival China Unicom has 4.8% (7.56 million) of the 2G+3G customer base (157 million) on 3G (by end of June 2010):
Another rival, China Telecom, is not publishing 3G numbers. The MIIT* Q1’CY10 3G numbers for China Telecom (CDMA2000) were 5.57 million, i.e. 8.5% of their total CDMA subscriber base (65.45 million).
*Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
Overall 3G market share in Q1’CY10 according to the above MIIT report: 42.5% China Mobile, 30.8% China Telecom, 26.7% China Unicom. For end of May a China Telecom “official said it now has between 6 million and 7 million 3G subscribers”, i.e. about the same number as China Unicom (6.5 million).
The follow-up MIIT report for end of June 2010 is indicating 7.18 million 3G subscribers for China Telecom. When combined with the company’s July 20 stock market closing report this would be 9.6% of their total CDMA subscriber base (74.52 million). Overall 3G market share at the end of H1’CY10 corresponding to the follow-up MIIT report would be: 41.5% China Mobile (-1% vs. Q1’CY10), 28.5% China Telecom (-2.3% vs. Q1’CY10), 30% China Unicom (+3% vs. Q1’CY10). A significant gain for the W-CDMA!
The 3G numbers in China are well below of other geographies. See: Could China close the gap in mobile Internet? It should! [July 21] The Chinese government and all the three mobile operators are therefore making extraordinary efforts to close the gap between China and the rest of the world.
There is also an OPhone SDN (OPhone Software Developer Network) community site: http://www.ophonesdn.com/. Here you can find the OPhone SDK Documentation in English, currently for v1.5: http://www.ophonesdn.com/documentation/index. The rest is in Chinese.
The platform is also going out of the mainland China:
first, to Taiwan: Taiwan-based III to cooperate with China Mobile to develop OPhone [brief, June 10], China, Taiwan agree on Android, Ophone, WiMax, TD-LTE, more [detailed, June 10]
then to US and RoW: China’s OPhone to find its way to US as Android+ [May 28, 2010]