China wary of overdependence on Android

China wary of overdependence on Android

Summary: Being too dependent on Android means they risk facing patent-related litigation and discrimination from Google, says Ministry of Industry and Information Technology whitepaper.


Chinese handset makers are too dependent on Google's Android mobile operating system which brings the risk of patent-related litigation as well as discrimination by Google, according to a ministry.

Chinese ministry says local phonemakers are too dependent on Android.

In a whitepaper published Tuesday, China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said domestic handset makers were "heavily dependent" on Android which brings a risk of paying royalties for patent licensing or litigation.

"Open source is not free. For example, Oracle sued Google for patent infringement in Android while Microsoft receives Android-related patent licensing fee from HTC and Samsung," said the whitepaper.

Besides running the risk of a patent lawsuit, the ministry said the core technology and development roadmap of Android was still strictly controlled by Google. Thus Chinese firms could be discriminated against by Google if the U.S. firm delays sharing the source code or uses business agreements to restrict the handset maker, it added.

That said, the ministry acknowledged the role of open source software in helping the local companies develop their mobile ecosystem. The whitepaper said open source software reduced the barriers for development of mobile OS for local companies.

Open source software allowed Chinese firms to shorten their learning curve to master the world's most advanced technology and rapidly upgrade their devices. In the first half of 2012, Chinese handset makers, such as Yulong, Huawei, Lenovo and ZTE, managed to overtake foreign phones in market share for the first time, it added.

China has been encouraging local firms to develop domestic alternatives to foreign technology vendors. Results from these efforts include the Tiansuo K1 highend server and Godson-3B1500 chip by Loongson Technology.

Topics: Android, Smartphones, China

Liau Yun Qing

About Liau Yun Qing

The only journalist in the team without a Western name, Yun Qing hails from the mountainy Malaysian state, Sabah. She currently covers the hardware and networking beats, as well as everything else that falls into her lap, at ZDNet Asia. Her RSS feed includes tech news sites and most of the Cheezburger network. She is also a cheapskate masquerading as a group-buying addict.

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  • Disingenuous

    Kinda disingenuous arguments. Yes, Oracle sued Google, but they lost... in spectacular fashion. And as for HTC paying royalties to Microsoft... well, good luck developing an alternative smartphone OS that is completely free of patent infringing technologies. The problem isn't Android, it's current IP law that allows companies to claim ownership of ridiculously obvious technologies and methods... prior art be damned.

    OTOH, it's clear what this is really about: China wants to be the tip of the technology spear, not simply another "follow the leader" marching single file behind Google. Good for them. But a word of warning: it's not going to be simple to develop a new OS that's popular enough that its adoption reaches beyond Chinese borders. Just ask Microsoft. It's a pretty cutthroat market.
  • Funny

    China's cultures are always TODAY but not too much tomorrow. Why reinvent the wheel if it's already been freed already. They are great at borrowing technology and tweak; however, when it comes to inventions, they have a long way to go and changing the culture making quick bucks for free. It's their business 101. Furthermore, it's not only the culture but also their knowledge foundation is still way behind. Culture like that can't be changed over night, just like the bribes and corruptions started thousands of years ago. It's not just today.
  • Say all you will about Chinese

    The west is ignorant of humanity. They think they have the final say in wealth, morale, military, technology etc. In fact they want the world to believe they are demigod. As far as Google is concern it is in bed with CIA. China will be totally stupid to allow it to be used exclusively. The article only say China want to lessen its dependence on Google which hat Chinese to begin with. As far as business is concern there are other technology available. Please remember Chinese is not as stupid as some media spinners and raciest think. Creativity does not mean one has to learn the wasteful way of the west. Diversity of humanity is universal and the absolute truth.
    Kay Li