China's own mobile OS draws public doubt over originality

With the apparent lack in availability and questions unanswered, local media are raising doubts over the authenticity of the government-backed mobile operating system, and suspect it may just be a HTC knockoff.

Just days after the launch of China Operating System (COS) – the official government-backed operating system – the OS is already cast under great suspicion from the public.

Read this

Canonical's Ubuntu smartphone OS, in pictures

Canonical has taken the wraps off its new Ubuntu OS platform for smartphones, ushering in a new generation of Ubuntu-powered devices and paving the way for the company's one-size-fits-all approach to platforms on different devices.

Read More

On January 15, the government-funded Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (ISCAS) and Shanghai Liantong Network Communications Technology jointly unveiled the COS , a Linux-based non-open source system, which was touted as independently developed by the country.

The developers also claimed that COS was free of backdoors and other safety issues that plague Android. They OS is also part of plans to wean off domestic smartphone makers from U.S.-made software such as iOS and Android.

But Chinese consumers have quickly cast doubt over the whole story of COS, according the report. Some find that the COS's UI design to be very similar with HTC Sense's, an Android-optimized system.

Many engineers from HTC have joined COS's research and development, making COS just an imitation of a customized Android OS by HTC , with no innovation at all, revealed a Sina News report. ISCAS responded that the whole system, except "some minor stuff", was developed by independently with full intellectual property rights. Shanghai Liantong denied that it has any correlations with HTC.

The Sina report further indicated that there was still no channel available for consumers to download the COS. So far, a CCTV news report on the launch of the system has been its only appearance.

The public also questioned how a new OS could have 100,000 applications immediately available. They pointed out messenging apps WeChat and Weibo were still running less smooth with Windows Phone 8 but COS was already perfectly compatible with those Android apps.

Evoking doubts

In a commentary titled "COS is obliged to respond to public doubts", the writer drew reference to the previous Hanxin chip scandal in China years ago. In 2003, a professor at a renowned Shanghai Jiaotong University claimed to develop the first digital signal processor DSP chip – Hanxin 1 – with wholly-owned IP rights. But the chip was later revealed to be just a duplicate of something developed in the West, with the original identifications sanded away.

ISCAS, as a national research institute, also funded by the government, is responsible to confront and answer the doubts from the public over COS, the writer said.