Journalists from The Bell found out that before the St. Petersburg Forum, Huawei CEO Guo Ping discussed with Minister of Digital Development and Communications Konstantin Noskov the possible replacement of Android on the company’s smartphones with the Russian OS "Aurora". This was reported to the publication by two sources familiar with the course of the negotiations. In addition, the same topic was also discussed at Vladimir Putin’s meetings with Xi Jinping.
If the Chinese side agrees to the Russian proposal, Rostelecom and Russian businessman Grigory Berezkin, who own the Aurora OS developer, will begin to actively cooperate with Huawei. It is worth recalling that the domestic mobile operating system is based on the Finnish Sailfish.
There are two cooperation options in total. The first is the installation of the Aurora OS on various types of Chinese devices. It can be used by the Chinese instead of Google’s Android operating system, the built-in services of which will soon become unavailable to Huawei. The Bell’s interlocutor said that China is already testing mobile gadgets with Aurora pre-installed.
The second option is to localize the production of some Huawei devices in Russia. We are talking about the possible start of joint production of both chips and software.
As for Sailfish, it has been developed since 2012 by the Finnish company Jolla, which was created by ex-employees of Nokia. In 2014, Russian billionaire Grigory Berezkin became the co-owner of this company. He managed to negotiate with the Ministry of Communications to create a national mobile operating system based on Sailfish. Since 2016, the Open Mobile Platform company has been developing a domestic version of this system.
The OS, according to Berezkin, is designed not for officials and government agencies, but for ordinary users. However, so far there are no mass-market smartphones with this OS available in Russia. Probably, such devices will appear later. True, there is a smartphone on sale, which is assembled in China, at the request of a Russian company. It is called Inoi R7, it was released in the spring of 2017. There is also a smartphone Ermak, which is positioned as an industrial smartphone. It was developed by the company Open Mobile Platform.
Last May, Rostelecom bought 75% of the company from Berezkin. Immediately after that, news began to appear on the Web that Russian officials would be transferred to a domestic operating system. It will also be used by the staff of state companies and state-financed employees. The new phones are planned to provide 8 million people, which should cost the budget 160 billion rubles.
About a year ago, Rostelecom renamed the Russian version of the Finnish OS "Aurora".
Huawei now benefits from having alternatives to Android, because starting this August the Chinese will lose the ability to use the American operating system. Donald Trump issued an executive order a few weeks ago, according to which American businesses are forbidden to cooperate with Chinese companies. True, only if the American company owns technology of national importance.
Since Android is an open operating system, everyone can work with it. But services from Google will stop working on devices created by the Chinese. This means that Play Market, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome browser and other Google products and services will not function. They are the backbone of the system, which without all these services becomes much less functional.
It is true that Huawei began preparing for the shutdown as early as last year. In particular, the company began working on the creation of its own mobile operating system to replace Android. In March this year, the company’s management said that the new OS is already ready, but the terms of its release on the market are called different – from the fall of this year to the middle of the next year.
In 2017, the operating system for smartphones Sailfish OS began to be developed in conjunction with the Chinese On February 27 at Mobile World Congress 2017 (MWC) in Barcelona, Jolla representatives announced that they had joined the Sailfish China consortium. The consortium was to develop software solutions for secure smartphones, IoT, the automotive industry and smart watches. Nevertheless, large-scale cooperation did not work out, and the initiative did not have much follow-through.