Chinese smartphone firms shrug off Android dominance

Updated: 2013-03-09 10:49


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BEIJING -- Chinese smartphone firms believe that long-term efforts in innovation are required in developing home-grown operating systems and are not concerned by the dominance of Android.

A report published by the China Academy of Telecommunication Research warned that Chinese companies may face commercial discrimination because the Android operation system - what is deemed as a "core" technology - is strictly controlled by Google.

The report, released Thursday, urged China's smartphone makers to develop self-innovated systems as the country lacks its own big name, with Android's supremacy in 97.7 percent of domestic smartphones.

However, industry experts consider the situation not to be that severe.

An industry insider, on condition of anonymity, said Android's dominance is the market's choice, and its popularity is worldwide.

By the end of 2012 in China, Google's Android took up 86.4 percent in the market and Apple's iOS 8.6 percent. Home-made systems account for less than one percent, statistics suggested.

"The producers should heed the trend and the market. Domestic makers can make adjustments and innovations based on the existing Android system instead of starting all over again," the insider suggested.

Yang Yuanqing, chair of the board of Lenovo, a major smartphone producer in China, said that to develop an operating system is not difficult, but to create an active one based on which various applications are developed is an arduous task.

Yang, a member of the national committee of the Chinese People Political Consultative Conference, said, "It is worthless developing an operating system that only offers tedious software developments."

"The significance of an operating system to smartphones is decreasing, as user experience and applications, on the other hand, grow to be pivotal," Yang said.

He added that the government should support enterprises with innovative capacity and global influence.

Lei Jun, president and founder of a Beijing-based startup Xiaomi Technology Co, said the company's MIUI has a system based on the Android system, with changes made in user customization. He said it is not over-reliant on the Android system, as the report warned.

Lei, also a member of the CPPCC national committee, said Friday that innovations are not restricted to the operating system. The way his company develops and sells products are also innovative.

"Innovations we made included differentiated functionalities in response to various consumers' needs. This sort of innovation is not ground-breaking, but at least a breakthrough," Lei said.

These initiatives may lead to a larger-scale enterprise-driven innovation the government is expecting.

Technology blogger Sun Yongjie said there is no need to worry about over-reliance of the Android operating system.

Sun urged more "tolerance" toward budding innovative enterprises as innovation requires long-term efforts.

"Innovation is neither a simple slogan, nor a mere vision," Sun said.

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