Last year, the Indian government revealed that it is looking to develop an ecosystem in the country that will encourage the development of an “indigenous mobile operating system”, as the market could benefit from an alternative to Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS and improve competition.
It has now been reported that the Indian government is reportedly working on a project to develop its homegrown mobile operating system that could rival Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.
The mobile operating system, tentatively called IndOS is an initiative of the government, start-ups, and academia, which aims to offer users a more secure and safe experience as well as provide more choices to users in the mobile operating system market.
This development comes after the Competition Commission of India (CCI) recently fined Alphabet Inc.-owned Google India $161 million for its unfair and anti-competitive practices and for exploiting its dominant position through the Android Play Store policy.
The search giant has been asked to change restrictions imposed on smartphone makers related to pre-installing apps, as well as allow the sideloading of apps from developers.
For those unaware, Google’s Android currently accounts for over 97 percent share of the Indian mobile operating system market, while Apple’s iOS covers a smaller share.
Confirming the development to Business Standard, a senior Indian government official said, “India is one of the largest mobile device markets in the globe. Our objective is to create a secure Indian mobile operating system that could also create choices and competition for Android’s dominance in the Indian market and a smaller share of iOS.”
The Indian government officials want the process of sideloading apps to be safe and secure for users and believe that either Google or OEMs should take responsibility to provide additional security.
However, Android smartphone manufacturers have refused to maintain or support the security of sideload apps saying that they just manufacture the devices and provide few after-sales services and warranties. The OEMs believe that it is up to Google and the government to decide as to who will be responsible for ensuring the security of users.
“We offer a phone and after sale to customers, take care of certain warranties. Google has to figure out with the CCI or the government who will be responsible for the security of the side-loaded apps. Certainly, it is not for us,” a device maker said.
Similarly, Google too has denied taking responsibility for sideloaded apps from other sources stating that apps that are downloaded via Play Store are safe and do not expose the users to unsafe platforms and the same support cannot be extended to sideloaded apps.
“Predatory apps that expose users to financial fraud, data theft, and a number of other dangers abound on the internet, both from India and other countries. While Google holds itself accountable for the apps on Play Store and scans for malware as well as compliance with local laws, the same checks may not be in place for apps side-loaded from other sources,” it said in a blog post.
With Google and OEMs not ready to take on the responsibility to protect users from harmful sideloaded apps, it looks that the Indian government itself is planning to provide a safer platform to its users via its homegrown mobile operating system, IndOS.
Domestic Android phone makers too are supporting the move for a “desi” Android operating system, as it would offer more security and safety to consumers from threat actors. They believe that the CCI move against Google is the first step in that direction that could force the search giant to change its current Android model.