Feeds

Chinese officials wring hands over Google's Android dominance

Shocker: Ascendant nation does not want to depend on rival country's tech

The essential guide to IT transformation

The Chinese government is unnerved by the success of Android, and wants local firms to become more independent of Google, quelle surprise!

Local mobile superstars – Baidu, Huawei, Alibaba – should prioritize the development of an independent mobile operating system, rather than depend on Google's technology, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology warned in a lengthy whitepaper released on Friday and publicized by local media on Tuesday.

The Android operating system sits on around 86 percent of the smartphone handsets sold in China, according to the report.

The whitepaper urges companies to develop either their own operating system or a strongly independent variant of Android.

This is not easy as Western companies own much of the intellectual property needed to develop a modern mobile OS, the report observes, and Apple, Google and Microsoft have a huge lead in terms of technical sophistication.

But the potential dividends of having a successful, independent mobile platform are so vast that companies must invest resources into developing their own technology, the report urges.

Many of the concerns outlined in the report stem from worries over Android's success letting Google throw its weight around, and paranoia about Android-based technologies being vulnerable to legal attacks in light of the Oracle versus Google trial.

Google has already discriminated against local companies developing their own Android-based operating systems by not sharing code with them in a timely manner, the paper claims, without naming companies.

This wouldn't be the first time Google has thrown its weight around: in September 2012 the launch of an Acer smartphone running on an Acer-Alibaba mob OS named 'Aliyun' was allegedly snuffed by behind-the-scenes pressure from Google. Acer is a major Android licensee.

When The Register asked Google for a statement, the company responded with: "Android is an open source mobile platform freely available to everyone. It is available in its entirety at http://source.android.com, allowing device manufacturers to customize and offer new user experiences, driving innovation and consumer choice."

The job of the state is to be paranoid

So why the big fuss? One of the main roles of government is to be paranoid on behalf of its populace – big brother thinks about nuclear war, pandemics, social housing, healthcare, et cetera, so we don't have to.

By cautioning companies on the pitfalls of depending on technology operated by a foreign company, China is following in the prudent footsteps of many other global powers.

In the same way China is concerned about Google pressuring its companies through the success of Android, the US government is worried about the spread of Huawei networking gear letting China hold US companies' feet over a fire.

If anything, the Chinese government is acting more sensibly than its flag-waving, gun-toting, cyclists-cause-global-warming-claiming rival.

Rather than blocking use of Android – as the US has done with Huawei in some government contracts – the Ministry is instead urging companies to invest more in developing their own variants of the tech or entirely new mob OS's.

This lets them make more money in the long run, and reduces their dependence on Google – something the Chinese government is understandably keen on, as it tends to disagree with the Chocolate Factory about everything.

If Android were entirely separate to Google, El Reg think it's unlikely that this report would have been issued.

But as long as the little green robot is intimately connected with a company whose entire business model is based on digitizing as much information as possible and making this available to as many people as have internet-capable devices, it's unlikely that a repressive command-and-control state is likely to have much fondness for the platform. ®

Bootnote

This type of posturing happens when a country is, as they say, on the make: see the US prioritizing the development of its own domestic oil production over imports; long-running attempts by China to develop credible MIPS-based processors so the country isn't dependent on Intel and ARM; the Soviet space and computer programs; India growing car makers like Tata; or Japan realizing after four terrifically advanced US warships steamed into the bay of Edo in the mid-19th century that if it didn't develop some good tech capabilities quickly it could become an annex of the West.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Time Warner Cable customers SQUEAL as US network goes offline
A rude awakening: North Americans greeted with outage drama
Shoot-em-up: Sony Online Entertainment hit by 'large scale DDoS attack'
Games disrupted as firm struggles to control network
BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes
Poor punters won't be affected, telecoms giant claims
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
EE plonks 4G in UK Prime Minister's backyard
OK, his constituency. Brace yourself for EXTRA #selfies
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.