China attempts to launch its own OS

August 26, 2014 // By Junko Yoshida
Xinhua, China's news agency, reported Sunday (August 24) that China's home-grown operating system will be unveiled in October this year.

Xinhua quoted Ni Guangnan of the Chinese Academy of Engineering saying that the OS will be first seen on desktop devices and later expanded to smartphones and other mobile devices. 

Ni's comments were originally reported by the People's Post and Telecommunications News, an official trade paper run by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

China's ambition to develop its own OS has been long known. Ni, in fact, heads an OS development alliance established in March in China.

In the Chinese government's point of view, the U.S. surveillance program and Microsoft's PC operating system monopoly (not to mention China's ban on procuring Windows 8), compounded by a mobile market dominated by Google's Android OS and Apple's iPhones, all combine as perfect justification for the Chinese government to pitch its own operating system.

In the Xinhua's story, Ni noted: "China has more than a dozen mobile OS developers with no independent intellectual property rights because their research is based on Android." In his view, future development should be led by the government.

Judging from a number of interviews EE Times conducted with China's local handset vendors and fabless companies in the past 12 months, however, it's far from clear how quickly and seriously the Chinese OS will attract local Chinese technology companies whose business is supplying products not only to domestic consumers but to the global marketplace.

Ni's bravado, calling for an environment that can help Chinese "compete with Google, Apple and Microsoft," is impressive. But as Xinhua also noted in its report, "there are still problems in the program, including a lack of research funds and too many developers pulling in different directions."

— Junko Yoshida, Chief International Correspondent, EE Times