From silk merchants to wireless communication companies, China has traditionally been a land of opportunity.
Openwave Systems, the new combination of Phone.com and Software.com, is poised to take advantage of that opportunity. In late March, the Redwood City, Calif., company plans to introduce preproduction testing of its Internet services to subscribers in Chinas largest mobile phone markets.
Openwave, in partnership with Siemens Shanghai Mobile Communications, will offer e-mail access, local news, stock trading information, online shopping, flight and train schedules, horoscopes and online games to China Mobile Communications subscribers. Siemens will provide the backbone for Openwaves software and applications, which include a Wireless Application Protocol server and auto-registration technology for mobile phone subscribers.
With 66 million subscribers, China Mobile has 80 percent of the cellular market share in China. Openwave will provide wireless Internet access to China Mobile customers in 11 Chinese provinces, including Tibet and the major cities in the southeast provinces.
The cities in southeast China are home to only 5 percent of the countrys population, but account for 60 percent of its gross domestic product, says Paul Adkins, general manager at Openwave Systems, Asia Pacific.
Openwave already operates in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Though Openwaves applications will initially be used mostly over mobile phones — "youre not going to find consumers in a market like China walking around with a PDA [personal digital assistant], a laptop and a phone," Adkins says — there is a market for sophisticated services, such as voice recognition, MP3 music files, streaming video and JPEG picture downloads.
"Asia Pacific is a very demanding marketplace," he says. "Theres always an interest in the latest thing. They will be pushing us very hard."