Officials in China have pushed for domestic operating systems on both PC and mobile for some time now, but they’ve never been able to unseat the foreign standard bearers on either platform.
However, as cyber security tensions between the US and China ramp up in the wake of Snowden/NSA, the perceived need for domestic operating systems is higher than ever. At a tech conference sponsored by China’s Ministry of Telecommunications, Ni Guangnan from the Chinese Engineering Academy said China will kick its dependency on foreign mobile OSes in the next three to five years, according to Techweb.
While Ni didn’t mention exactly which OS China is pinning its hopes on, the front runner appears to be COS, short for China Operating System. We caught a glimpse of the Android lookalike back in January, but it hasn’t been made available to the public yet. It appears HTC is assisting with development, as well.
While most domestic phone makers in China use various Android ROMs in lieu of Google’s stock version – CyanogenMod, MIUI, Aliyun OS – Ni made it clear that skins won’t cut it. He says China should accelerate the development of a safe and controlled autonomous mobile OS.
But even if China were to begin the transition today, breaking the status quo in three to five years sounds like a long shot. By the end of 2013, China had 700 million active smartphones and tablets. Nearly 90 percent of 3G-connected smartphones were running Android as of Q2 2013 with the remainder mostly made up by iOS, according to Statista, and Android is growing faster than ever in rural areas. It would take some pretty drastic measures to swing favor of both users and developers to a domestic alternative.