HTC building its own mobile OS for the Chinese market

HTC building its own mobile OS for the Chinese market

Summary: Yet another mobile OS may emerge by the end of the year, but this one is just for China, according to a report.

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TOPICS: Android, Mobile OS, China
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Taiwanese handset maker HTC is expected to release its own mobile operating system for the Chinese market by the end of the year, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The OS is part of HTC's effort to tap the growing demand for smartphones in China as the firm's Android sales elsewhere have failed to take flight in the face of Samsung's dominance of the platform.

It's not clear whether the OS is based on Android or another platform, but according to the WSJ, the software would offer deep integration with Chinese microblog service Weibo, helping to build its appeal among Chinese consumers. 

As noted by the newspaper, although the Taiwanese company has many Chinese-speaking staff, it's still a relative newcomer to the country, and a smaller player than several local vendors vying for a slice of the growing market.

Smartphone sales within China have doubled year on year, with the country accounting for around a third of worldwide shipments with 238.1 million units sold for the second quarter of this year.

Samsung leads in China with a 19.4 percent share of the smartphone market, according to Strategy Analytics data, while Chinese handset makers Lenovo, Coolpad and ZTE each have between 9.7 percent to 12.3 percent. Huawei holds 9.6 percent, and Apple had 3.4 percent.

According to the WSJ, HTC insiders see the OS project as an attempt to build closer political and business ties in China. The move also follows a report by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology claiming that China was "too dependent" on Android, suggesting there could be an appetite for something more local.

But HTC would not be the first to attempt a Chinese built OS. Fellow Taiwanese company Acer ran into trouble with Google after building Aliyun, an incompatible Android fork, for Chinese internet company Alibaba. Acer pulled the plug after Google threatened to end its partnership with it.

HTC's OS would emerge alongside several alternatives this year, including Ubuntu Touch, Firefox OS, Samsung favoured Tizen, and Finnish startup Jolla's Sailfish OS.

Topics: Android, Mobile OS, China

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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8 comments
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  • Good direction

    The less they're dependent on Google the better.
    Dreyer Smit
  • Failure

    Unless it's based in android.
    AleMartin
    • Actually, the OEMs determine the success or failure of an OS,

      and even Samsung is rumored to be looking at alternatives to Android. When that happens, it's sayonara to Android as the number one OS for smartphones.
      adornoe@...
      • Samsung is betting heavily on android

        Samsung is relying on android much more than the opposite.
        AleMartin
        • Tizen

          Technically they have been developing an alternative to android called Tizen you can look it up. Though I find it odd seeing the success they have had with android. Not sure they will bother in the end.
          gregshw
  • This effort brought to the Chinese consumer by Big Brother

    I'm sure the Chinese government, that champion of individual rights, will be completely free of backdoors and will ensure the users' right to privacy. HTC is done. They have, rightly or wrongly, failed to make the top tier of cell phone providers in most of the world. I guess now they are selling their souls to remain solvent. Too bad.
    Sir Name
    • You have your countries mixed up - You were clearly thinking of America

      (nt)
      croberts
  • Ubuntu

    Why wouldn't they use Ubuntu touch as far as I know it hasn't been adopted by anyone else and its brand should already be recognisable in the Chinese market :(
    gregshw