What Does China Have Against Apple, Microsoft, and Google?

WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images

In just a couple of months, the Chinese government may introduce its own desktop operating system to compete with Apple and Microsoft — and the government is reportedly planning to develop a mobile version of the operating system to take on Google as well. According to state media agency Xinhua, China’s “homegrown” operating system is expected to be ready for distribution in October.

Ni Guangnan of the Chinese Academy of Engineering said that the operating system will first be available for desktop, and later for smartphones and other devices. He noted of the current state of development: “China has more than a dozen mobile OS developers with no independent intellectual property rights because their research is based on Android,” Google’s open-source operating system, and said that future development should be led by the Chinese government.

Guangnan’s comments first appeared in the People’s Post and Telecommunications News, an official trade paper run by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), and Reuters provided a translation. “We hope to launch a Chinese-made desktop operating system by October supporting app stores,” he said, and noted that he hoped domestically-built software would be able to replace existing, foreign-built desktop operating systems within one to two years and mobile operating systems within three to five years. He explained that while some Chinese operating systems already exist, there is still a large gap between China’s technology and that of other developed countries.

China is motivated to develop and distribute its own national operating system not only by that gap, but also by several factors: a desire to compete with Apple, Microsoft, and Google, and to counteract Microsoft’s monopoly over the market, growing concern over the possibility of U.S. surveillance, and security issues exacerbated by Microsoft’s ending of support for Windows XP.