Google Android and the Apple iPhone are two simultaneously emerging and dominant mobile platforms fighting to snatch up market share as their global roll-out continues. Apple had a huge head start and the iPhone is available in dozens of countries worldwide. However, Android could beat Apple to the largest country in the world and launch on the largest carrier in the world next month. The Android powered Lenovo OPhone is rumored to be launching in May on China Mobile in China.
In yesterday’s earnings report, China Mobile listed 477 million subscribers at the end of the quarter. To put that in perspective, that is:
- If China Mobile subscribers were a country, they would be the 3rd largest country in the world behind China and India
- China Mobile subscribers more than TRIPLE the combined subscribers of Verizon Wireless and AT&T in the United States
- China Mobile has more subscribers than the United States has citizens… 150+ Million more!!
I think it is fair to say that China Mobile has some leverage in the mobile market. So when China Mobile was in talks with Apple about bringing the iPhone to their customers, the company insisted that they should be able to sell iPhone apps on their own “Mobile Market”. Apple refused, China Mobile walked and now we’re heaing China Mobile’s own app store will be launching by the end of the year. BURN!
Introducing Android. Being free and Open Source, China Mobile is completely able to customize the look and feel of Android and how it runs in conjunction with their services. While purchasing applications through Android Market has some logistical (and revenue) issues the company will need to discuss, the flexibility is MUCH greater than with the iPhone and it looks like this will make all the difference.
DigiTimes is reporting that China Mobile plans to launch the Ophone in May with production being outsourced to Lenovo and LG Electronics. This is the first time we’ve heard LG mentioned in the mix. Chipset solutions are said to come from Taiwan-based MediaTek. It will be interesting to see what type of hybrid OS China Mobile cooks up from the Android core OS.
This isn’t the end for the iPhone in China, though. Another carrier in the country – China Unicom – will reportedly launch the iPhone in June as reported by the Commercial Times. China Unicom is nothing to sneeze at as the world’s 6th largest carrier serving 135+ million subscribers.
Keep in mind that Digitimes has a hit or miss track record with rumors to put it likely. But with all the videos and information we’ve seen of the Lenovo Ophone over many many months, a May release doesn’t sound ridiculous. Plus… the OPhone is already late – it was supposed to launch in the first quarter of 2009!