Update – June 10, 2009: Interesting factoid from Ultimi Barbarorum… China Unicom will be building 125,000 base stations in the first 12 months of their W-CDMA 3G network rollout. That’s more 3G base stations than all the operators in Western Europe have rolled out in the 9 years since the 3G wireless standard has been in existence.
Update – June 6, 2009: According to a June 5 report in 163.com, China Unicom is preparing to release “UPhone” handsets based on its “UniPlus” operating system (OS). UPhones will be “customized” handsets with the UniPlus OS (modified Android code) designed to support China Unicom’s wireless value-added services (WVAS). This strategy by China Unicom will mirror and match the path that China Mobile is taking with their OPhones – also “customized” handsets using a modified Android OS to support the carrier’s own wireless services (music, e-mail, chat/messaging, mobile apps, cloud storage, etc.).
Both China Mobile and China Unicom have seen how Apple’s iPhone has driven mobile data usage through its seamless OSX software integration with Apple’s compelling services platform (iTunes, App Store, etc.). With more competition on standard cellular rate plans, carriers are looking to “Appleize” (offer cool customized smartphones with a proprietary mobile OS designed to promote their own WVAS) to increase average revenues per user (ARPU). “Appleization” is much tougher and more expensive than it looks.
China Unicom is smart enough to know that UPhones and UniPlus (MOS) are a gamble, and hence they will soon announce a deal with Apple to offer an official iPhone in China. Yes, UPhones and iPhones can exist side-by-side in China Unicom’s inventory. The Chinese consumer will ultimately pick the winners.
April 30, 2009
JLM Pacific Epoch is out with a report today on a new mobile handset operating system (MOS) developed by China Unicom. This MOS will be branded as “UniPlus.” According to the report, new UniPlus-enabled handsets with several “simple functions” could be released as early as May 2009. UniPlus will help China Unicom to encourage consumer use of China Unicom developed wireless value-added services (WVAS).
Apple has demonstrated how subscribers will respond by consuming massive amounts of mobile data and services when a peerless smartphone (iPhone) and software are seamlessly integrated into a powerful platform (iTunes, App Store, MobileMe, SDK, 3.0 OS and soon to be integrated with Snow Leopard OS). China Unicom will likely follow a similar roadmap to Apple in building out their MOS and services platform. Yet China Unicom recognizes that they will not arrive at their destination overnight. Consequently they will not be competing against Apple and the iPhone anytime soon. In fact, China Unicom will be an important partner with Apple in China. Stay tuned for iPhone in China announcements in May/June.
China Mobile, on the other hand, will be taking a far more aggressive approach in ramping up their own mobile platform. China Mobile is building their own mobile operating system and plans to release a customized smartphone (oPhone) in May in partnership with Levono. There were also rumors last week that China Mobile was in talks with Dell build a customized TD-SCDMA 3G smartphone. Dell!?
The China Mobile mobile operating system (MOS), will be Android-based and coded to support China Mobile’s “proprietary” wireless value-added services:
More on China Mobile’s new app engine > HERE