Tensions between Russia and the US show no signs of abating, and the rift is even finding its way into the global smartphone race.
According to some reports, Russia is looking to develop a new mobile operating system in a bid to reduce Android and iOS dominance in the market – but what does it mean for Russian communications in the future?
When technology gets political
Nikolai Nikiforov, the Russian minister of communications, has announced plans to develop new software that could replace Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms for mobile users in the world’s largest country. As it stands, iOS and Android account for 95 per cent of the nation’s overall market. By 2025, Nikiforov wants that amount reduced to just 50 per cent.
The software will be based on Sailfish, an open-source mobile OS developed by Finnish phone maker Jolla. Nikiforov hopes the software would be entirely trustworthy, sparing Russia from paranoia over clandestine US government operations.
“We think it’s necessary to develop alternatives to closed or closing mobile platforms based on open operating systems,” Nikiforov said, adding that he also wished to involve Russia’s fellow BRICS nations – Brazil, India, China, and South Africa. “They all worry about the existing monopoly on global software market and support us in this sphere.”
However, according to theverge.com, Jolla chairman Antti Saarnio has stated that Russia only wants to break the reliance on Android and iOS rather than developing new software, and will do so through several different methods. One would be to finance developers who port their apps to the Linux-based Tizen and Sailfish. The other would be a localised version of Sailfish, with Russian services replacing American ones.
“I think there were some misstatements in the media… It will not work and it’s not needed,” Saarnio said.
“We are licensing our code line to vendors, and we are integrating local leading services. We’ve already been shipping our devices with Yandex’s app store. And now we are integrating support for more and more Russian services into Sailfish.”