China Unicom, the second biggest mobile operator in China, is rumoured to be ready to drop Google search from its Android powered devices in a possible reaction to the search giant routing its searches to Hong Kong.The operator will let handset makers decide which search service to use on phones using Google's mobile operating system, according to widespread reports. "We are open to co-operating with any handset makers and companies. But they must obey China's regulations," Unicom president Lu Yimin is reported in The Wall Street Journal as saying in an apparent reference to Google's recent shift in policy on China.Google refused to comment on the actions of individual companies, but said that it is focused on keeping communication channels open with its partners and seeing how they could work together in the future."We understand that some partners may not be comfortable with our stance, but we've already seen that partners are offering support and want to continue to work with Google," the company said.In a second move that will hurt Google, China Unicom is reported to be in talks with Research in Motion to offer BlackBerry devices to users on its network.China Telecom, meanwhile, confirmed during a results call this week that it hopes to offer the BlackBerry in May, according to The Wall Street Journal.Research in Motion was contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.Adam Leach, devices and platform practice leader at analyst firm Ovum, said that the announcements could make life difficult for Google as it would no longer be able to use Android to push its services."The move by Chinese operators away from Google won't stop Android being used, but it will stop the uptake of Google services which is why the company has been keen to use the platform as a beachhead," he said.Leach also believes that the move by Research in Motion would be a logical one in order to increase its presence in the country, as Google deals with the continuing fallout of its move to stop censoring searches in China earlier this week.The analyst added that manufacturers like Samsung or Motorola, which sell Android devices in the region, should be able to adhere to any changes demanded by operators."If manufacturers can't change the setting on the devices in time, there could be issues for them. But it is likely that they will make sure they are able to do this either during manufacturing or with over-the-air updates," he said.
Issue: 315 | May 2013
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