On the phone front, China Unicom Chairman Wang Jianzhou announced an ambitious plan for forcing standardization – by, in effect, buying stakes in CDMA provider companies. He revealed, for example, that the company was in talks with Romania's POSTelecom over a possible 29% stake. That is on the large size, and possibly more than Unicom really wants, but it illustrated the strategy, he said.
Unicom is China's sole operator using Code Division Multiple Access technology. Besides getting phones to work better, Wang also hopes standardization will push down handset prices. Since taking up CDMA, Unicom has seen handset prices drop from RMB 2,500 to RMB 1,000, but there is room to go down still. Wang said the CDMA technology is good, but plagued by multiple country implementation standards making services like roaming problematic.
Conflicting standards also plague the digital camera industry, at least the Ministry of Information Industry thinks so. To fix the problem, MII said it was trying to draw up a set of national standards for China-made digital cameras. Cao Jianhua, MII's director of science and technology, said it was still too early to say when work on the new standards would be completed, but reiterated that it was essential that standardization efforts proceed.
According to Cao, the standards will aim at stemming production of shoddy products and provide a platform for China to develop in the field so it can go head to head against Japanese manufacturers. According to IDC data cited by state media, Sony, Canon and Olympus alone own 80% of the China market.
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