Li Chao, Executive Deputy General Manager of Shanghai OnStar Telematics

Li Chao, Executive Deputy General Manager of Shanghai OnStar Telematics

General Motors has made huge inroads in China, and now, those inroads have grown a bit wider: yesterday at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show, GM launched its smartphone app for China's OnStar subscribers.

The OnStar app for Chinese drivers is nearly identical to the one that subscribers in North America have been using for some time. It offers remote starting, door locking and unlocking, diagnostic information (e.g. fuel level, tire pressure), and other familiar features.

But while that may seem old hat to us, it's a major advance for Chinese consumers: according to a press release from GM, "The app is the first automotive mobile app available in China". Assuming that's true, the OnStar app will help buff GM's already-bright brand in China and cement GM's position as a leader of innovation there.


For those wondering about China's smartphone market, it's dominated by Nokia phones running the Symbian operating system. Those devices account for nearly 60% of all the handsets in the country; Android and Windows Mobile devices trail far behind, with Apple, Blackberry, and others bringing up the rear. That bodes well for Microsoft, given that Symbian phones are beginning their migration to the Windows 7 platform.

As China's economic power and influence grows, who knows? The country's heavy use of Windows 7 devices might finally give that operating system the boost it needs to gain a foothold in the U.S. market.