Watch out, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT): you’ll soon be facing a major new rival in the mobile operating system space in the form of China Unicom (NYSE: CHU; HKEx: 762). The above may sound absolutely ridiculous, but the only thing more ridiculous is that it’s true. After announcing the roll-out of its Wo cellphone operating system earlier this year (previous post), Unicom is now going out and trying to set up an alliance of telcos, cellphone makers and anyone else who will listen to try to promote this system. (Chinese article) Why Unicom thinks it needs to take such initiative when there are already lots of superior products in the market, including Apple’s iPhone which Unicom is now selling, is a question that leaves me scratching my head. My only guess is that someone at Unicom is doing this to try to curry favor from Beijing, which is forever encouraging its companies to develop and promote proprietary technologies, even though such initiatives nearly always end up as very expensive failures. Perhaps Unicom feels it “owes” Beijing a debt for giving it the best technology when it awarded 3G licenses 2 years ago, while giving the worst technology to archcrival China Mobile (NYSE: CHL; HKEx: 941). Whatever the case, this Wo initiative should be renamed “woe”, as it’s bound to bring plenty of woes to China Unicom if it really tries to seriously develop and market this system.
Bottom line: Unicom’s determination to move forward with its self-developed Wo mobile operating system is bound to be a costly failure.
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