The parent company of China Unicom, Apple's sole partner for carrying the iPhone in China, revealed plans on Monday to release its own mobile computing platform. Dubbed "Wophone," the platform will compete directly with Apple's iOS and Google's Android.
Last year, Apple partnered with China Unicom, the nation's second largest mobile carrier, to release the iPhone 4 in China. The exclusive availability of the iPhone on China Unicom's network helped the carrier compete with rivals China Mobile and China Telecom for new customers in China's nascent 3G wireless services market.
In a statement, China Unicom said it hopes Wophone will help the company and its manufacturing partners develop a broader variety of more affordable 3G devices and introduce them to market more quickly. The rapid introduction of new 3G devices could help woo new customers away from market-leading China Mobile who released its own mobile platform, "Ophone," in 2009.
China Mobile leads the wireless market in China with about 589 million total subscribers, but has only 22.6 million customers for its higher revenue 3G services. China Unicom said 15.5 million of its 170 million subscribers were on 3G at the end of January.