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Mobile OS: Do in China, as the Chinese Do

Do in China, as the Chinese do. This maxim holds true for mobile companies, too. Market researcher IDC reveals that the trend of building homegrown mobile Operating Systems (OS) is on the rise in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

This trend is detailed in IDC’s latest research, “Made In China: Mobile Operating Systems.” It says this is a reflection of the PRC’s still-developing mobility market, where Chinese consumers are more accustomed to the indigenous online services produced by local firms.

As a result, Chinese homegrown OS integrate these services as their core competitive advantage over their western peers. IDC believes that while these will catch the eye of many Chinese consumers, it is also speculated that some of these homegrown OS players will be short-lived, leaving only a few dominant players to go head to head with the western heavyweights in the PRC.

“The emergence of homegrown Chinese OS is also a manifestation of the market players’ intense desire to build fences and drive stakes into the ground of the booming PRC smartphone market. Many of these developers are utilizing homegrown OS as a platform to create additional revenue streams,” says Ian Song, research manager of IDC’s Asia/Pacific Client Devices Research.

The homegrown OS, as many of its developers believe, will become instrumental in bridging traditional mobile phone users to smartphone usage. By localizing the user environment and integrating services that Chinese consumers are accustomed to, these OS can drive more data usage, speed up the development of mobile technology, and thus help the PRC mobility market catch up with the rest of the world.

IDC foresees smartphone shipments in the PRC to eclipse that of feature phones by 2013. In fact, 2012 is turning out to be the inflection point, as only 8 million more feature phones will be shipped compared with smartphone shipments; this is out of a total of more than 280 million feature phones and smartphone that was forecast to be shipped in 2012.

Part of the accelerated smartphone growth is due to the push to deploy more 3G-enabled devices into the PRC market. For carriers, the opportunity lies in converting traditional feature phone users to the smartphone platform, where higher-priced plans and average revenue per user (ARPU) will continue to grow, suggests IDC.

Companies covered in this IDC research include Alibaba Group, Baidu, Inc., China Mobile Limited, China Unicom (Hong Kong) Limited, Dell Inc., Lenovo Group Limited, and Shanda Interactive Entertainment Limited. IDC announced it today, May 23.

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