In a recent white paper from China’s tech ministry, MIIT, it warns of China’s huge dependence on Android, Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) mobile OS. It represents, the officials warn, a risk to the development of China’s smartphone industry, and cites how Google can exert pressure on handset makers. With a reported 140 million Android users in China, it’s far away the leading smartphone platform.
The report states:
While the Android system is open source, the core technology and technology roadmap is strictly controlled by Google.
As noted by Reuters, the report (PDF) encourages Chinese companies to create their own mobile platforms – and says that Google is discriminating against Chinese companies in the way it controls Android.
That’s likely a reference to the kerfuffle between Alibaba and Google last year, when the launch of an Acer-made flagship phone for Alibaba’s mobile OS, Aliyun, was cancelled. Essentially, Google claimed that Aliyun had adapted elements of Android, thus its Android hardware partners could not carry such offshoot mobile platforms.
The MIIT report is, without specifically saying so, backing its web companies, like Baidu, Alibaba, and Huawei in making its own OSes. But, ironically, Baidu’s own platform is essentially just a skin of Android, and Alibaba’s Aliyun can run Android apps and needs that allure of the Android ecosystem in order to sell. As for Huawei and ZTE, it’s buddying up with Mozilla – yes, another foreign company – to adapt Firefox OS for its phones as a possible alternative to Android.
So, as much as MIIT might dislike it, its companies are in need of working with foreign companies – including Google. But Google is possibly the least favorite tech company among authorities in China after the stand-off that saw Google’s China search engine switch off rather than censor its content. A great number of Google products – including ones integral to Android, such as G+ – are blocked by the Great Firewall in the country.