The global smartphone race is largely a two-horse race between two American companies, Apple and Google — and the Russian government isn’t happy.
Currently, Android and iOS collectively take up more than 95% of the Russian smartphone market — but minister Nikolai Nikifori wants to get that figure below 50% within 10 years.
The new OS will be based on Sailfish, according to ZDNet — “an open-source mobile operating system, developed by Finlad phone maker Jolla.”
The move follows a recently introduced Russian law that requires all tech companies that hold information on Russian citizens to store the data within the country. Reports at the time of the law’s passing late last year speculated that it could see Apple banned from Russia altogether.
But even if that doesn’t ultimately come to pass, the Russian government is clearly keen to have its citizens move to homegrown platforms. International confidence in the products made by US tech companies has been rocked over the last several years following whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations over US government surveillance; the move is likely a way to try and avoid this.
Relations between Russia and the West are also at their lowest in years, following sanctions relating to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The launch of homegrown mobile OS would help lessen Russia’s reliance on Western companies.
And Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook is openly gay, has also previously come under criticism in the increasingly-homophobic country. Russia has passed laws outlawing what it classes as the “promotion of homosexuality” — and a Russian politician slammed Apple’s free giveaway of the new U2 album as “gay propaganda.” A monument to Apple was also demolished in November 2014 after Tim Cook came out, which the Guardian reports “was widely viewed as a direct response” to Cook’s announcement.