On the panel, “The Platform Battle: Marketplaces and Operating Systems”, Wang Changcheng, deputy GM of China Unicom WO App Store operating center talked about App Store. He believes operators’ edge of running App Store is the huge user base, while the shortcoming would be slow action in response to new market trends.

As for whether the operators’ App Store would squeezed out other 3rd-party App Store, Wang reckoned that operators are thinking about how to serve users with broader network coverage, “only through serving the partners and users the market could be unified, because users tend to choose the same thing, whoever is the best and fastest(with respect to connection speed) could unified the market. ”Wang said.

Here’s the interview:

Gang (=G): What’s the relation, according to your opinion, between China Unicom WO App Store and OS? Competitive or interdependent?

Wang(=W): I talked to the panelist before, everybody wanna know what’s the future market like? How’s the user growth? As a matter of fact, I believe that we have understood the trends. It’s just we don’t know how fast could it evolve. Be it OS, App Store, or application market, what’s the connection among them? We positioned WO App Store as a platform, we hope there’re more OS, applications to compete with each other, we mean it, because competition leads to better and faster service. With the high penetration of (mobile)OS, more applications would be out there for those stores, which could provides our customers with better experience. In an operator’s mind, it hopes to provide a network, build a platform. At the present time, the applications could affect the traditional voice and SMS service. I’m using certain apps for phone calling and text messaging. The app may only support certain OS in its early stage, but later moves onto other territory as user grows. That’s growth rather than competition.

The operators hope to bridge the gap, helping with connection, communication and growth. Unicom spend a lot to subsidize iPhone. We hope to join force with everyone involved to facilitate substantially increasing in handsets, apps and OS upon the coming of 3G. With such cooperation, the threshold should be lowered for the sake of users’ convenience, they could enjoy the mobile internet. I read about Japan’s user data(about mobile internet), and I thought the future market is huge. Sina CEO Charles Chao mentioned earlier that according to operators’ statistics, 350 million mobile users had used GPRS service. We believe users and sales volume of smart handsets had surpassed PC or 2G mobile devices. The huge growth based on the existing 350 million users in China would be our benefits. We really in hopes of fully cooperation with everyone involved in the chain, including our developers. We wish to go global with better cooperation, and the coming of Angry Birds is warmly welcomed.

G: Another question for you. What do you think of the App Stores in China. Would the operators unified the market? From a operator’s standpoint, what’s the edges and shortcomings of operators running App Store?

W: Talking about operator running App Store, we hope to do something as 3G goes popular. As for edges, huge user base. Unicom has 170 million users, number still growing. With the uprising growth rate and improving quality of our 3G network, what we can see is huge opportunities in the market, as well as chances to facilitate more apps and users. And shortcomings, operators made a lot of famous companies in the Internet age, while themselves only took certain market share from providing services. Now with the coming of  mobile Internet, I think all the operators are facing the shifting of roles. We actually cater to every partner involved in the chain. We’re undergoing lots of impacts on mindsets, we need time to comprehend things new after their emergence, which might cause our slowness in reaction to the market. I think that’s our #1 disadvantage.

As for the operators unifying the market, actually we talked about that last Nov.. We are now in a more competitive times, should I say more like Warring States Period rather than Three Kingdoms Period(Editor’s Note: the former was a period when the seven states were in constant wars against each other). There’re many in-house or overseas apps. The operator dare not to say dominating or unifying the market. We hope to serve the market with broader coverage and faster connection to provide preferable service. Only through serving the partners and users the market could be unified, because users tend to choose the same thing, whoever is the best and fastest(in regard to speed) could unified the market.