Chinese high-tech giant Lenovo on Wednesday unveiled the OPhone in partnership with China Mobile, which they hope will rival Apple's widely popular iPhone.
"We hope OPhone will take at least 50 percent of China's smartphone market in three to five years," Huang Xiaoqing, president of China Mobile's Institute of Research, said at a ceremony.
The OPhone will run on an operating system developed by China Mobile and will work on the carrier's homegrown TD-SCDMA third-generation wireless technology platform.
Lv Yan, president of Lenovo Mobile, said each OPhone handset would cost more than 200 dollars to make, but the retail price would vary according to subscription plans with China Mobile.
"OPhone is China Mobile's strategy," he said.
Lenovo hopes to start selling the OPhone next month in the world's largest mobile market of more than 700 million subscribers.
China Unicom last month announced a multi-year deal to sell the iPhone starting in the fourth quarter of 2009.
Unicom, which had 141 million mobile subscribers at the end of July, expects to attract high-end users with the iPhone to turn around weak performance in competition with China Mobile, which had nearly 498 million subscribers at the end of July.
But China Mobile president Wang Jianzhou said last week the carrier remained in talks with Apple over selling iPhones in China, Dow Jones Newswires reported.
Apple's deal with Unicom is "absolutely not exclusive," and China Mobile still hopes to offer iPhones in China, chairman Wang said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Dalian last week.
A stumbling block, however, is that Apple would need to modify the iPhone to work on China Mobile's TD-SCDMA platform. If not, the iPhone would only be able to run on China Mobile's slower 2G platform.
"We are still in talks" with Apple, Wang said. "We still hope to reach an agreement, so I can't say anything else."
(c) 2009 AFP
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