Picowork’s ‘Switzerland of cloud’ lets Apple, Android, Windows, Linux talk to each other

Taiwanese company Picowork spent US$14m developing a cloud based operating system designed to work across a range of devices and computing platforms

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 June, 2017, 8:59pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 July, 2018, 7:27pm

Taiwanese technology company Picowork launched in Hong Kong on Thursday what it says is the world’s first collaborative cloud operating system, marking the start of a global roll-out.

The start-up’s unique platform-as-a-service (PaaS) provides a secure, efficient and neutral online environment for users to communicate and share data across any smart device, browser and operating software.

From its regional headquarters at Cyberport, Picowork plans to swiftly embark on an aggressive sales and marketing campaign that will see its cloud OS also formally unveiled in the world’s three biggest information technology markets, the United States, Japan and mainland China.

Frank Cheung, chief executive at Picowork, said during the launch that Hong Kong provides the company with a strategic location to further expand its operations and support its growing customer base.

Established in Hong Kong in 2010, Picowork has spent about US$14 million to develop its cloud OS and cloud-based “computer”, which make up the online platform for users to perform collaborative work.

“As of this moment, we have 30 customers spread across Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China,” Picowork director Steve Chen told the South China Morning Post. “These users are in the retail, technology, manufacturing, education and business consultancy industries.”

Chen said the company’s PaaS offering has users on a minimum two-year, pay-as-you-go subscription scheme.

PaaS is a segment of the cloud computing services market that allows users to deploy onto the platform their applications using the tools supported by the provider.

Cloud computing enables companies to buy, sell, lease or distribute over the internet a range of software and other digital resources as an on-demand service, just like electricity from a power grid.

Lin Junxiao, the chief technology officer at Picowork, demonstrated on Thursday how users on various platforms – including Apple’s iOS, Android, Windows and Linux – can simultaneously collaborate and share data on the firm’s cloud operating system, a neutral party not unlike Switzerland in the global battleground of technological protocols and standards.

Chen said it was “important for Picowork to expand in the US, where we have seen interest in our cloud OS”.

The US is the largest market for public cloud services, generating more than 60 per cent of total worldwide revenue, according to research firm IDC. It forecast global public cloud spending to reach US$203.4 billion by 2020.

Chen said Picowork has already secured dozens of patents for its cloud OS and computer platform in the US, mainland China, Taiwan, Japan and Europe.

Herman Lam Heung-yeung, the chief executive at Cyberport, said on Thursday that Picowork’s decision to grow its business and launch its unique cloud product from Hong Kong further burnishes the credentials of the city as an emerging hub for hi-tech innovation.