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Tencent launches OS for smartphones

By Gao Yuan | China Daily | Updated: 2015-04-29 07:19

 Tencent launches OS for smartphones

Ren Yuxin, chief operating officer of Tencent Holdings Ltd, announces the release of the TencentOS operating system for smartphones, smartwatches and game machines at the Global Mobile Internet Conference that opened in Beijing on Tuesday.Zhu Xingxin / China Daily

Tencent Holdings Ltd launched an operating system for smartphones and smartwatches on Tuesday, a move to lure China's growing legions of mobile users.

TencentOS, as the system is called, will improve the experience on social networking apps and help users enjoy high-quality services from different smart devices, according to Ren Yuxin, Tencent's chief operating officer.

Ren declined to elaborate on the new system's core features at the 2015 Global Mobile Internet Conference, which opened in Beijing on Tuesday. He only said it will provide voice recognition and include payment systems.

"We will not get involved in manufacturing smart hardware. Rather, we only want to build an open platform by teaming up with different manufacturers on the basis of TencentOS," Ren said.

Ren later explained that the company will disclose the open interface and development standards of the new operating system so that more partners can benefit from its platform. It is already working alongside domestic technology company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd.

Tencent also plans to increase its advantage in online gaming. The new system will be applied to virtual reality and could support playing games on televisions, it said.

Launching its own operating system is a key part of the Internet company's "going mobile" strategy as nearly 557 million Chinese have turned to mobile devices for information and entertainment.

The move also intensifies competition with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which has an operating system called Yun OS. In February, Alibaba bought a minority stake in domestic smartphone maker Meizu Technology Co.

Sandy Shen, an analyst at IT research company Gartner Inc, said this is an "aggressive step" by Tencent to attract mobile users. But Shen said that the company faces tough competition.

"As a growing number of Chinese access the Internet through mobile devices, Chinese tech firms have rushed to develop their own operating systems with the aim of better promoting their online products," Shen said.

"But if an operating system wants to survive stiff competition, it must have strong links with well-established manufacturers. Otherwise, it can't carve out a slice of market share from industry leaders."

In 2014, Google Inc's Android and Apple Inc's iOS combined to account for 96.3 percent of all operating systems in Chinese smartphones, according to IDC, the United States-based market research company.

"Though the brand of Tencent can attract some (partners), it remains to be seen how well its operating system is received," Shen said.

Ma Si contributed to this story.



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