Troubled smartphone maker HTC is reported to be readying its own “mobile software system” for the Chinese market, as it looks to the world’s largest mobile market to help revive sales.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the project is being monitored by Cher Wang, chairwoman of HTC, who has also been holding negotiations with Chinese government officials. The platform will be deeply integrated with Chinese apps such as Weibo, and will launch before the end of the year.
So far, it is unclear whether the platform will be entirely new from the ground-up, or will be built on Android. The latter seems to offer some clear advantages for HTC, not least that it will make it easier for the company to develop products for both China and international markets.
Earlier this year, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology expressed concern that the country’s mobile industry is becoming “too dependent on Android”, which although open source (to a degree), is still controlled by Google.
A number of Chinese companies have opted to create their own versions of Android, which replace Google’s services with those created by local developers.
But this process has not been without problems. Last year, Google cracked down on the planned launch of a device from Acer powered by an Android variant created by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, with the possibility this could impact Acer and Google’s relationships in the international market.
In this regard, HTC will need to tread a careful path between going its own way with a platform for the Chinese market, and maintaining its relationship with Google for its international efforts.
And while China is an important growth market for vendors, it will not be easy for HTC to increase its market share here.
The market is already fiercely competitive, with market leader Samsung facing fierce competition from local rivals including Lenovo, Huawei, Yulong/Coolpad, ZTE and Xiaomi, meaning there is no easy turf for HTC to stake its claim on.
According to recent reports, some 60 per cent of Chinese smartphone market share is held by local device makers.