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Russia is making its own smartphone platform, sort of

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
May 18, 2015
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When Russia said it was reducing its dependence on Western technology, it wasn't kidding around. Communications Minister Nikolai Nikiforov recently met with Finland's Jolla to talk about developing an "independent" Russian mobile operating system based on Sailfish OS. He's concerned that 95 percent of phones in the country use foreign software like Android or iOS, and wants to foster a domestic platform that both boosts the economy and is less susceptible to mass surveillance. Yes, Sailfish technically comes from another country, but its open source nature would allow for customized software where there shouldn't be any secrets.

If all goes according to plan, outside operating systems would make up no more than 50 percent of the Russian mobile space within the next decade. It's not clear how Nikiforov plans to get people flocking to this in-house OS, however. As competitors to Apple and Google can attest, simply having another platform isn't enough -- you have to convince buyers that it's worth switching from what they already own. Russia may not have much trouble getting government workers to jump ship, but that doesn't mean that everyday phone users will follow suit.

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