I just heard from an industry insider that China Mobile’s Android project, Ophone, is dead. China Mobile is no longer pushing its own operating system, which is based on Google developed Android. Rumor about Ophone’s failure has spread in the industry since Li Yue replaced Wang Jianzhou, China Mobile’s longtime boss, as general manager of the company in June. Now, it is more or less official, said the insider.
Hopes for the OPhone project were initially high within China Mobile. Bill Huang,president of China Mobile’s Institute of Research, hoped OPhone would take at least 50% of China’s smart-phone market in three to five years, when Ophone first launched in September 2009.
China Mobile at that time saw OPhone as a competitive lever against rivals such as China Unicom, which has a deal with Apple to sell iPhones in China. And, many vendors supported the project with their models of Ophone handsets, such as Lenovo, Dell, Philips and Samsung. However, in just 15 months, these are all history. Things can change really fast in China.
The industry insider also warned mobile application developers that they should be careful. Although Android is hot, they should not to put all their hopes into Android platform alone. “Partially because of Ophone’s failure, China Mobile is rather caution about Android,” said the insider, “It has not set up a special division for Android yet. And usually, for anything China Mobile consider to be important, it will set up a special division for that.”