Tibetan smartphone maker applauds new font release
Despite the competition, a former computer science professor who created the first smartphone to support Tibetan text is pleased that the introduction of a bevy of new fonts is giving users more options to express themselves in their own language.
“With Tibetan available on many Chinese smartphones, it has greatly popularized the use of Tibetan in China,” said Lobsang, who founded Luozang Science and Technology in 2008.
For many years, Lobsang’s Luozang brand of smartphone and the iPhone were the only two mobile phones supporting Tibetan. And the Luozang, marketed first in 2011, was the only one with settings in Tibetan.
The 17 new Qomolangma Tibetan fonts, created by the China Tibetology Research Center and released in November by the Information Center of the Minzu Publishing House, mean Tibetans can now download a stylish script to any smartphone.
The release might impact his business, but Lobsang, 47, remains confident about his brand.
“My phone has gained popularity, especially in the nomadic areas and monasteries in Tibetan areas. It has the advantage of having all settings in the Tibetan language, not just a Tibetan keyboard and typeface,” he said.
In addition to the Tibetan branded smartphone, Lobsang’s company produces 20 electronic products that use Tibetan, including solar cell phone chargers, voice recorders, and 61 kinds of electronic dictionaries.
The company has more than 40 sales outlets in the Tibet autonomous region, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan, and some cities in the United States and Denmark.
One of its products, the Luozang Tibetan-Chinese-English Electronic Dictionary, is the first electronic dictionary of its kind in the world, and the company’s second electronic product, the Tibetan-ChineseEnglish keyboard and mouse, are popular in Tibetan-speaking areas.
Lobsang, a former professor at Tibet University, did his graduate study in information technology at the University of Virginia in the United States.
He turned his attention to the phone when he returned to China, first using the globally unified Tibetan Unicode.
Currently, the world’s three key phone systems — iOS, Google Android and Microsoft Windows — all come with Tibetan typefaces and keyboards, and account for 99.3 percent of the global mobile phone market, according to a report from China Tibet Online.
In addition to the improvement of Tibetan information technology on smartphones, a newly created search engine in Tibetan is expected to be put into use later this year, filling another digital gap for Tibetan speakers.
A Tibetan woman, Yangjen, chooses a smartphone in a mobile phone shop in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet autonomous region.