The code war: Russia plans to free itself from iOS and Android
According to Russia’s RBC financial newspaper, the country’s ministry of communications instigated the project to replace Android and iOS, meeting with Finnish developer Jolla to discuss the creation of a new mobile operating system based on Jolla’s open-source Sailfish OS.
Russia’s minister of communications and mass media, Nikolai Nikiforov, told RBC that he wants to see the use of non-Russian mobile operating systems drop to just 50% by 2025. Android alone accounts for 81% of the country’s OS market share, according to analysts at Gartner, while iOS picks up another 15%.
Sailfish OS has just 0.5% of the market in Russia at present, below even Windows Mobile and Blackberry. But the open-source nature of the operating system, which lets any interested party use it as the basis of their own software, as well as the lack of ties to the US (unlike Android, which, while also open-source, is heavily controlled by Google), makes it a strong contender for a future Russian open system.
The company is formed around a core of former Nokia employees, who left after Nokia decided to abandon its fledgling MeeGo operating system in favour of working exclusively with Microsoft on smartphones. The core components of MeeGo were open source and Jolla’s new employees built Sailfish around it.
In the long run, Nikiforov hopes to expand Sailfish into a fully international effort. Shortly after the meeting with Jolla, he tweeted that the operating system “creates a Finnish-Russian-Chinese company”, which could one day include “India, Brazil and South Africa”, involving all members of the Brics group of developing nations. To that extent, he hopes to involve IT companies from other Brics nations, he told RBC, encouraging their employees to give 20% of their time, paid for by the state, to work on pan-Brics initiatives like the new operating system.
If Finland/Russia manage to release these apps, I would immediately sign up. Sad, as it is to admit this, but we need Russian open source mobile apps, to combat the NSA. It’s a sign of the times that European civilians would trust Russia before than America. Of course, those of us in the UK, have home grown troubles in the form of GCHQ.