Huawei, the world’s No. 2 telecommunication equipment maker, launched its first mobile phone offering cloud-based services, joining other Chinese companies including Alibaba and Baidu in the move to apply cloud computing technology to smartphones. The service is similar to Apple’s iCloud for iPhone users, which was introduced in June. Apple said they will plan to launch the service very soon, but it is still unknown whether the iCloud can be used in China due to restrictions on internet access cause by the Great Firewall of China. It appears that the Chinese companies have some advantages, which can acted ahead of their foreign competitors in producing cloud-based smartphones for the Chinese market …
Last week, Huawei has launched a 3.7-inch touch screen mobile phone called “Vision“. The new handset runs on Android 2.3 operating system and it can be connected to Huawei’s cloud platform. The cloud provides 160 GB of storage for every Huawei cloud phone user, and it can wirelessly push applications, music, photos and documents to users’ devices automatically. The cloud-based smartphones will hit the Chinese market as soon as September, but there is still no price reveal yet. Huawei told the press that the new handset is targeting “young social networkers”, and hope to sell more than 1 million units in China by the end of this year. The company, known for its low-cost cellphones, is betting its new model will help it replicate its telecom gear success in the booming smartphone market, and eventually take on Apple.
Alibaba has recently launched its first smartphone, using an internally developed operating system known as Aliyun. The handset provides cloud-based services too, with 100 GB storage for each user. China’s Internet search engine giant Baidu has also hinted it could be developing a mobile operating system that allows smartphone users to perform a wide range of online activities through its web browser. All the moves can only bring long-term strategic benefits for these Chinese companies, as the current Chinese telecom network cannot fully support the function of cloud-based mobile phones. Chinese customers can’t fully enjoy the convenience of cloud phones, unless the wireless networks provide a faster connection speed. And not to forget the GFW, which control over the flow of information in China. The best example is Dropbox, which has blocked by the GFW since last year.
In China, the cloud-based phones are suited to use in first and second-tier cities, where 3G networks and WiFi hotspots are generally built up over there, but it isn’t worthwhile for rural residents to buy an expensive cloud phone and even use the online cloud services. Unfortunately, we might have to wait for the 4G era to see the cloud-based smartphones and services get mature in China. Huawei definitely have all the resource to build their own cloud processing data center to support their own cloud-based smartphones, just like what Apple is doing now. Huawei even have no problem on networks restriction caused by the GFW, because their cloud services are only targeted on Chinese local market, not much data will be coming in from worldwide. Furthermore, Huawei will properly allow data monitoring by the government authorities. It is interesting to look out how Apple will provide their iCloud service in China during the next few months.
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