The Indian government wants to help the creation of an Indian Operating System (OS) to limit the growing influence of giants like Google and Apple, as the digital ecosystem continues to grow.
The government will work with domestic startups and academia to develop an alternative to the two dominant OS, Google's Android and Apple's iOS, which allows the tech giants to control how new apps are developed and data is shared.
In the past, Samsung, Microsoft and Blackberry have tried to develop their own OS but were unsuccessful.
Recently, Huawei developed its own after Google withdrew support for its mobile devices in 2019. However, there is hardly any examples of the successful development of an indigenous OS.
In India, Reliance Jio uses the homegrown Kai OS for its affordable feature phone, JioPhone. However, the company decided to partner with Google for the next version of this device, JioPhone Next. Indus OS is another example of an indigenously developed OS.
An OS developed by the government is unlikely to be trusted by the public, as the administration is already facing charges of alleged unlawful surveillance.
India has been trying to reduce the influence of global technology giants. In 2021, it was involved in a conflict with Twitter. So the government promoted Koo, a domestic microblogging platform, with some officials joining the platform to help position it as an alternative.
Also in 2021, the domestic developer community protested against the high charges levied by Google and Apple for selling services through an app on their app store.
The development of an indigenous OS possibly opens up new avenues for the community - but is unlikely to offer the reach of Google and Apple's vast global ecosystem.
The development of an Indian OS is in keeping with the government's Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) policy.
It is hard to understand why they would want to spend resources developing an OS. And it will be tough to make it appealing for users to move away from Android and iOS, which come with a rich ecosystem of apps and plugins.
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— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading