China’s internet giant Tencent, which runs the popular WeChat mobile messaging app, has moved into the smart device space, with the launch of what it calls an “open” operating system for internet-connected gadgets.
The Shenzhen-based company said its Tencent OS (TOS+) is open to both device makers and developers for free as long as they share revenue, Reuters reported.
Tencent, which is also a leading online entertainment company, is following Google’s Android model and is looking for an opportunity to push its content to end-users over a variety of hardware platforms, including smart TVs, watches and virtual reality headsets.
The company wants the Android-based OS to enable activities such as playing games on connected TVs via a smartphone or making payments from a smartwatch.
The move will put it into direct competition with local rivals Alibaba and Xiaomi, which have introduced their own smart device strategies. Xiaomi has launched connected TVs, fitness bands and air purifiers over the past year.
Alibaba has been pushing its own YunOS with little success and in February invested $590 million to take a minority stake in mainland mobile phone maker Meizu Technology to give it a captive hardware platform for the OS.
Alibaba’s finance arm and Xiaomi announced in early April they are partnering to allow payments via wearable devices. The system works by linking Alibaba’s Alipay Wallet mobile app with Xiaomi’s Mi Band smart fitness band to enable users to make payments without the need for passwords.
The country’s largest search engine Baidu also is working on its own Android-based OS for smartwatches. The DuWear OS is compatible with Sony, Motorola and LG wearables, Reuters said.