China’s Tencent Mobile Holding has subsidiaries providing social network, web portal, ecommerce and multiplayer online services. Its success with Chinese mobile We Chat has helped it rank among the largest internet companies in the world alongside Alibaba, Amazon, Ebay, Google and Facebook. It was only a matter of time before it announced its own operating system for smartphones and smart devices, complete with onboard voice recognition and payment systems.
Stepping Stone to Leading Chinese Mobile Player
According to chief operating officer Mark Ren Yuxin, his Android-based system is a step along the road to its primary goal of becoming the Chinese mobile connector of choice. “We want to make an open platform to connect all people, devices and services,” he told South China Morning Post yesterday. The operating system named TOS+ met the media on Tuesday at Beijing’s Global Mobile Internet Conference currently on the go.
In a sense, this new initiative by would-be Chinese mobile mogul Tencent is a defensive move against initiatives by Xiaomi with more than 100 million Android-based OS users worldwide, and Alibaba that launched YunOS as part of an initiative to invade the home automation and smart device markets. Tencent was right to follow suit by basing TOS+ on Android, because this provides automatic access to 90% of Chinese smartphones.
Mark Ren Yuxin is planning to piggyback off existing strengths in online gaming by providing support to smart glasses, smart televisions and video games consoles. “We want to inject more content into smart hardware systems and have connectivity across different terminals,” head of TOS+ Zhong Xiangping added at the launch.
The Battle for Chinese Mobile Customers Hots Up
Despite impressive financial muscle with shares on an all-time high this month, I suspect Tencent has a way to go with this one. Both Alibaba and Xiaomi have pitched their tents in the internet of things already, with Alibaba investing US$590 million in the Zuhai-based YunOS plant in Guangdong Province, China. The fact that Baidu recently withdrew from this hotly contested market shows that what Tencent dares to make available free, is only for the brave.
However, their initiative is great news for Chinese mobile users, who should enjoy steadily improving technology as the huge corporates slug it out for market share. If China Telecom is still looking for reasons for its slow subscriber growth then perhaps it will find them here.