Google's Android may win backing from China and Taiwan

Android and the Ophone are being promoted at a special telecom meeting in Beijing

Google's Android was promoted as the mobile software of choice for China and Taiwan at a high level telecommunications industry conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

The conference is aimed at creating technology standards and finding business opportunities for telecom companies from China and Taiwan. This is the second year this meeting has been held, and most of its proposals from last year were enacted, such as a bid to support the development of TD-SCDMA (Time-Division Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access), a 3G standard made in China to reduce the nation's reliance on foreign technologies.

Backing by China and Taiwan would give makers of Android software and compatible smartphones a potential market of over 800 million mobile phone users. The chances are good it will win more formalized backing. Android is already the basis of software for Ophones supported by China Mobile, the world's largest mobile service provider, and it's become popular among gadget makers in Taiwan such as Acer, Asustek Computer and High Tech Computer (HTC), which built the first-ever Android-based smartphone, the G1.

"The way we look at it, Android and Ophone are the best platforms for China and Taiwan to focus on," said Ho Pao-chung, a director at Taiwan's Institute for Information Industry, speaking at the second annual Cross-Strait Telecommunications Industry Cooperation and Exchange Conference in Beijing.

He said Taiwanese expertise at creating devices using Android, including smartphones, e-readers, netbooks and tablets, coupled with the huge market in China available through China Mobile's Ophone plan, make Android ideal for the two places to cooperate on. The Ophone is China Mobile's general term for smartphones made using software it created by tweaking Android to better fit the local market. The research director at China Mobile told Taiwanese app developers last April that they would need to do little extra work to tweak their Chinese-language Android apps for Ophones.

An organization to promote Android and the Ophone in China and Taiwan should be formed, said Ho, adding that product specifications should be drawn up and a testing and certification center should be built to enable companies to bring devices, applications and services to market more quickly.

One key to getting devices to market faster would be to create supportive elements including reference designs for a range of products, advanced user interfaces, and developmental work on services for mobile cloud computing, he said.

He also suggested building a platform to develop App stores that companies in China and Taiwan could use so people in both places have access to all kinds of apps.

China and Taiwan have worked more closely in recent years on the joint development of technical standards in the hopes of matching Taiwan's technology prowess with China's huge market. Their goal is to develop technical standards so they don't have to rely on or pay license fees for standards developed in the West, and ultimately to create their own global standards. Last year, these efforts led to the building of the first TD-SCDMA test network ever in Taiwan, and a promise to follow up with a TD-LTE (Long Term Evolution) network this year.

Their close work is also meant to encourage peace across the Taiwan Strait, the 180-kilometer (112 mile) stretch of sea that separates the island from China. Taiwan and China separated amid civil war in 1949 and China has said it will attack Taiwan if it seeks formal independence.

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Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service
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