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China questions Google smartphone influence


The Chinese technology ministry has said Google has excessive control over China’s smartphone industry through its Android OS, Reuters reports.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a white paper that the country’s mobile OS research and development is “too dependent on Android”, which - despite being open source - still has its core technology and roadmap strictly controlled by Google.

The paper also argued that Google has discriminated against local firms developing their own operating systems by delaying the sharing of Android code. The ministry also complained that Google has used commercial agreements to restrain the business development of mobile devices by these companies.

Duncan Clark, chairman of technology consultancy BDA, told Reuters that the white paper hints that Chinese authorities could regulate the use of Android in order to help domestic companies.

The white paper also said that China has the ability to develop its own mobile OS, with Chinese companies Baidu, Alibaba and Huawei praised for having created their own systems.

Android has underpinned much of the growth in the Chinese smartphone industry in recent years. Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker by shipments, uses Android as do Chinese handset manufacturers Huawei and ZTE.

However, Google has attempted to stop companies from running customised versions of the OS; last year the planned Chinese launch of Acer’s new smartphone running a customised version of Android was cancelled at the last minute due to reported pressure from Google. The Taiwanese vendor had planned on unveiling its CloudMobile A800 smartphone running on Aliyun, the OS developed by local e-commerce giant Alibaba which is based on Android. Alibaba’s unit later released a statement saying Acer had faced pressure from Google and pulled out of the launch event.

IDC estimated that China passed the US as the world’s largest smartphone market in 2012, accounting for 26.5 per cent of all smartphones shipped.

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