Electronics developer and manufacturer Aquarius has begun creating its own mobile operating system (OS) based on Android for the consumer, government and commercial sectors. The company plans to enter the operating system into the register of the Ministry of Digital Development in order to receive preferences in government procurement and tax benefits. Experts are confident that the ministry will soon have to regulate the number of operating systems in the registry.
Kommersant's sources among operating system developers said that the Russian manufacturer of smartphones, computers, tablets and other electronics Aquarius has begun developing its own mobile operating system based on the open source AOSP (Android Open Source Project). According to one of Kommersant’s interlocutors, the company will install the OS on its smartphones and tablets for sale in the government, corporate and consumer segments. “For preferences in government procurement, Aquarius plans to include the OS in the software register of the Ministry of Digital Development,” the source clarifies.
“Aquarius” did not answer “Kommersant”. The Ministry of Digital Development stated that no applications were received from Aquarius to register the OS, but if the system appears and passes the examination, it will be included in the register.
After the outbreak of hostilities in Ukraine, Apple and Google began to block some services in the Russian Federation. After this, the government began to discuss the possibility of developing a “national mobile ecosystem” based on the Aurora OS owned by Rostelecom (see Kommersant, October 27, 2022).
However, later the Ministry of Digital Development focused on developing a Russian analogue of Android; it was planned to involve Sberbank, VK and Yandex in the project (see Kommersant, December 30, 2022). In response to this initiative, Rostelecom provided a legal opinion that Russian companies developing OS based on AOSP may face civil, administrative and criminal cases due to violation of the Google license agreement (see Kommersant on April 3 2023).
Kommersant's interlocutor among mobile OS developers notes that the registry already has Android-based OS from Kernel and Red Soft. “But using smartphones with AOSP OS can be dangerous, since the code is owned and controlled by the American Google and may have software bookmarks,” he said, adding that the conditions for using Android open source include compliance with US sanctions.
“The Ministry of Digital Development’s register has ceased to fulfill the tasks for which it was created,” believes Dmitry Altukhov, advisor to the director of the Internet Initiatives Development Fund. According to him, now the register has “the function of providing tax benefits and access to government procurement” without strict requirements for the development of Russian software: “According to the rules, any project with published source code with almost no modifications can be used to create a “domestic” product, AOSP is not exception". Mr. Altukhov believes that other Russian manufacturers will begin to develop their own mobile OS using this code, which “will pose a security threat due to the lack of updates.”
Another Kommersant interlocutor among electronics developers notes that creating your own mobile OS based on Android “does not take much time and money.” Thus, according to him, ordering an AOSP assembly without Google services from Chinese partners may require only about 1 million rubles, and the work period will be three months. Independent work will require six months and 10 million rubles. At the same time, the Fplus IT holding believes that it is now inappropriate to make your own OS, since there are enough registered systems in the registry.
Kommersant’s interlocutor among electronics manufacturers believes that due to the increase in the number of mobile OSes in the Ministry of Digital Development’s registry, it will be necessary to begin limiting access to it: “The registry already has three OSes based on Android, as well as three more based on Linux. Now anyone can enter their AOSP adaptation into the registry and claim benefits. There is no need for so many OSes for a market of 30 million smartphones.” In November, Rostelecom sent a complaint to the Ministry of Digital Development against the decision to include the OS and Red Soft in the register (see Kommersant, November 22, 2023), arguing its position by the fact that it was developed on AOSP.