China Mobile is understood to be working on its own proprietary mobile operating system and related mobile phone – known as the ‘Ophone’ – for launch soon, according to reports in the Chinese media. A report by the Xinhua news agency, which cites insider sources, notes that the operator is working with manufacturers (including Lenovo) regarding the production of the first Ophone-based terminals. The Ophone is described as a deeply customised product that will embed a series of China Mobile subscriber services. The move is considered a strategy that will enhance China Mobile’s standing in the mobile handset market and allow it to compete with existing handset manufacturers that focus on mobile Internet services. “The Ophone demonstrates China Mobile’s ambition to establish itself in the mobile Internet market, but it also shows how seriously the company takes the threat of challenges to its formerly undisputed mastery of mobile services in China,” Huang Weisong, an analyst with Cap Gemini, told Interfax China. Interfax China adds that the first devices are expected to launch in the first-quarter of next year.
During his keynote session at this year’s GSMA Mobile Asia Congress, Wang Jianzhou, chairman and chief executive officer of China Mobile, hinted that the operator is also looking at setting up its own application store in a similar vein to Apple’s AppStore. “We will set up our own shop and encourage content providers to offer their own applications via our application shop,” Chairman Wang told delegates.