China's Lenovo goes solo with smart phone

China-based hardware maker Lenovo (formerly Legend) has decided to go its own way by releasing a smart phone that features Lenovo's own chips and operating system.

China-based hardware maker Lenovo (formerly Legend) has gone solo by releasing a smart phone that features the firm's own chips and operating system.

The G900, available only in China, bucks the trend of converged devices that use standard hardware and software platforms.

The handset forgoes widely-used operating systems (OS) such as Linux, Symbian or Microsoft's Smartphone for an embedded platform developed by Beijing-based software company Hopen.

While in line with moves by China to free itself of technology developed in the West, the practice should be embraced with caution, say some, including Lenovo's own executives.

"Today, it is impossible to use domestic technology for everything. This is especially so for mobile chips," said Lenovo Mobile's assistant general manager, Fei Hongxing, in an interview with ZDNet China.

"However, it is encouraging to note that some domestic vendors are starting to develop mobile chips," he continued.

Fei felt that it was pointless to develop China-made technology for the sake of national prestige.

He was confident that the G900 would showcase China's prowess, but also felt that it should be left to the market to judge if a handset should incorporate locally-developed technology. It would be unwise to plough ahead with unstable, expensive hardware simply because it was made in China, he said.

Lenovo, as a key Chinese firm, should aim to have its own intellectual property. However, he felt China firms should pull together in jointly adopting China-developed platforms and standards.

G900 is the first of three products released by Lenovo and the ZHIA. The group is headed by Lenovo Mobile, CECT, DTT and Capital Nokia and consists of more than 20 companies engaged in the research and production of handsets.

The G900 measures 93.3 x 54.5 x 23.4 mm and weighs just 110 grams. It claims to have a stand-by time of 120 hours and talk time of 3.5 hours. It sports a 260,000-color touch-screen, and uses the EGSM 900MHz and DCS 1800MHz networks.

Features include GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) Class 10, EMS (Enhanced Messaging Service), MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service), picture editor, handwriting recognition software and PC sync. A digital camera attachment is optional.

Also, the G900's two-chip system allows the unit to be used in a pure-PDA or pure-phone mode. This allows the handset to be safely used as a PDA on board an airplane, for example.

ZDNet China's Zhang Lan reported from Beijing.