China has historically been vocal about its issue with just how dependent its users and businesses are on American technology companies. As tensions rose over the last two years about cyber security measures and alleged hacking between the two countries, China has home-grown more efforts to distance itself from the reliance its tech enterprises have on U.S.-based software. In March, it established an operating system development alliance, and in May, banned government use of Microsoft’s Windows 8 — an aggressive move that was a clear indicator of the government’s intent to move away from American operating systems. State-run papers have officially reported that the alliance is working on the development of an OS that will initially roll out for desktops, and eventually launch for mobile in an effort to further the country’s lessening dependency on foreign software.
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Reuters quotes Ni Guangnan, head of the alliance, whose statement was originally published in the People’s Post and Telecommunications News — a paper run by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology:
We hope to launch a Chinese-made desktop operating system by October supporting app stores…Creating an environment that allows us to contend with Google, Apple and Microsoft – that is the key to success.
While such a goal would certainly encourage international competition, the likelihood of high adoption of a home-grown Chinese OS is a point to consider: Microsoft has had the advantage of the proliferation of its hardware in coordination with its software for years. PC’s in-built with Windows are some of the most widely-used devices for business and personal computing. Google’s Android is the globally-dominating mobile operating system. To unseat these giants is no small task.
The problem to consider here of U.S.-China technology integration is that it is particularly vital for both countries to work together. Chinese companies are building out their cloud infrastructures largely with help from U.S. groups. U.S.-based Yahoo owns 22.5% of China-based e-commerce company Alibaba. A few of China’s majorly successful technology companies — particularly ones that build mobile hardware — are dependent on Google’s Android, and can attribute much of their success to that particular operating system’s widespread adoption.
The two countries’ technology sectors will likely never be separate, as they have influenced each other’s markets from the beginning. But China’s native-built operating system will be a technology to watch for as it is deployed for enterprises and general users, in a tangible attempt to draw users away from foreign software.