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India Beats China in Race to Build Native Mobile Operating System

India has managed to find success with Indus OS, an operating system poised to free India from dependence on operating systems from Windows, Android, Apple, etc. The success comes while China has struggled with building its own.

But there is a huge difference. India and China have approached the issue from two hugely different, almost opposing angles.

As Bloomberg reports, India achieved success with Indus OS in less than two years, while China is still struggling to come up with something people are willing to use after 15 years. In India, Android is still the leader by far in mobile operating systems, but Indus OS comes in second and surpasses Apple’s iOS.

Indus OS has features specially designed to make for a facile mobile experience in India’s multilingual society.

In China’s case, most OS development came at the initiation of the government, so they started from the top and either hoped for or forced adoption among the populace. In India, the OS had no such backing, but was adopted as market forces proved the native Indus OS advantageous for both users and the market.

In China, once a government-funded OS is created, it may be coerced upon users, despite its flaws in comparison to outside options. This process eventually resulted in the demise or under-adoption of many Chinese native OS platforms.

Digital Trends reported why China’s OS initiatives have failed, while looking at COS in particular. “…China’s government-run projects are highly susceptible to churning at the speed of bureaucracy; while, on the other hand, all major OS products in use in the world today come from private sector entities, making them much more nimble and competitive.”

The Chinese OS platforms are also seen as mimicking foreign OS platforms too closely. They are also associated with China’s problem of government monitoring of citizens’ computer activities, essentially installing an OS that gives the government easier access to your computer.

The graveyard of Chinese OS attempts include China OS, Kylin, Red Flag, YunOS, NeoKylin, and others.

Indus OS now claims itself the world’s first regional operating system. Such region specific customization tackles concerns that only exist in markets in limited regions.

The successful American OS platforms may not need such customization, but unique regions with unique language and other concerns could benefit from the Indus OS blueprint. Indus OS is continuing to expand its presence on smartphones in India, eating away at Android’s dominance, and is also seeking to expand into Chinese handset makers’ products.

Originally known as Firstouch, Indus OS achieved quick success, as reported by The Times of India. “Indus OS follows a three-pronged approach to developing its indigenous operating system — a simple user interface, deep integration of language and technology, and ‘App Bazaar,’ a mobile application store targeting the regional-language audience. Currently available in 12 Indian languages, Indus OS has achieved an installed user base of over 2 million within six months of its launch.”

Though Indus OS is one of many operating systems using Android as its base, including those from China, Indus OS offers an advantage to native cell phone carriers in that they receive a cut from app sales. They would otherwise not receive any compensation if a person purchased an app on Android or iOS.

Indus OS’s main advantage is perhaps its language features, making the multilingual functions seamless, as Times further explores.

“Core features of the Indus OS operating system include a swipe to translate feature that translates and transliterates text messages from English into a regional language with a flick of the hand. It has also developed and patented regional language keyboards customized for 12 languages with predictions to make typing effortless and accurate.

“It is the first smartphone platform in the world to provide transliteration functionality in Urdu, which is read from right to left.”

Indus OS also boasts of a successful app store called App Bazaar. The advantages of which are apps built in many of India’s unique languages.

There are currently 30,000 apps there that can be segmented and searched by language. Of India’s 220 million smartphones, Indus OS hopes to be in 100 million of them by 2018.

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