Sina Tech, 3/01/11
Responding to questions about patent issues related to the China Unicom-developed (NYSE: CHU; 0762.HK; 600050.SH) "Wo Phone" smartphone OS announced yesterday, Unicom technology GM Zhang Zhijiang said that the companies that participated in R&D for the operating system, led by China Unicom, collectively share the patent rights. Initially, Unicom will charge a RMB 30 patent fee for each Wo Phone handset, and decrease the fee gradually. Zhang noted that the RMB 30 charge was considerably less than the tens of USD charged by Microsoft for each installation of its Windows Mobile operating system.
Two new releases of the Wo Phone mobile OS are planned each year, to be determined by market conditions. The current Wo Phones run on Qualcomm chips.
Yu Yingtao, China Unicom's GM of sales, denied rumors that the Wo Phone OS would be targeted at mid- and low-end customers, noting that the operator required that the initial run of Wo Phones feature a 3.5" touchscreen as a minimum specification - a specification not found in low-end phones. The operator also mandated that more than 50 applications be available for the initial batch of Wo Phone handsets.
Editor's Note: According to a separate report in the 21st Century Business Herald, Zhang Zhijiang said that the majority of the first batch of Wo Phones would not charge patent fees. Zhang added that Wo Phone terminals will not be limited to support for Unicom's own WCDMA network in the future, with support planned for dual-mode/dual-standby WCDMA/GSM and even CDMA2000, TD-SCDMA, and LTE networks.
Yu Yingtao said that Unicom plans to ship 1 mln Wo Phone handsets this year, and hopes for international brands to count for more than half of the handsets. Yu said that Unicom had been in communication with virtually all mobile phone makers, and that with the exception of Nokia (with whom Unicom is still in discussion), all have committed to releasing Wo Phone handsets. For more background on this topic, please see "China Unicom Unveils 'Wo Phone' Smartphones, OS" MD 2/28/11 issue.