Can India’s BharOS replace iOS and Android? A difficult path lies ahead.

BharOS

India’s efforts to create its own OS. Even if the BharOS is unable to compete with Google and Apple’s monopoly, it may help restrain Big Tech.

BharOS, created by a firm supported by IIT Madras, is positioned as India’s response to the two most popular mobile operating systems in the world—Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

The government’s support for BharOS not only demonstrates India’s desire for a local operating system to compete with Silicon Valley’s heavyweights, but it also assures that rivals have an equal opportunity to prevail.

Although there are still many unanswered issues regarding BharOS. How it can truly compete with Android; it is evident that India is modeling its local IT environment after China’s to help the country’s economy. We discuss India’s efforts to create its own operating system and how, even if the OS is unable to compete with Google and Apple’s monopoly in the mobile ecosystem, it may help restrain Big Tech.

BharOS is not a unique indigenous operating system. Read the article from India.com

BharOS

It’s difficult to tell BharOS from Android and iOS. BharOS appears to be more of a fork for Android than an alternative, despite the lack of publicly accessible information on it and its salient features.

Forking Android is not the same as releasing a brand-new operating system. By forking, a developer can build a new project without breaking copyright regulations by copying the source code of a program, app, or even operating system. Since its release in 2008, Google’s Android has been an open-source project. Anyone may make use of it, utilize the source code, and fork it or produce a different version. For instance, Amazon’s Fire OS is essentially an Android derivative.

However, a forked version is barred from the Google Play Store, which is where most Android users get their apps and other Google services from. For instance, Amazon’s own App Store is available for Fire OS.

To create a non-Google OS, an Indian IT company can fork Android. However, since a “forked” version of Android won’t come with Google Play Protect, software that stops malware from infecting Android devices, that operating system is likely to have more vulnerabilities and will be more vulnerable to hacking. On the other hand, Google declared on Wednesday that it will permit other producers to create forked Android variations in accordance with the CCI judgment in India. Therefore, a BharOS will technically be allowed to run with Google’s approval and with access to some of its services.

Once Huawei’s access to US technology was revoked, it was unable to use Google Mobile Services (GMS). It is a collection of mobile apps developed by Google that is licensed separately to manufacturers. And for this reason, Huawei sells its smartphones around the world using its own Huawei Mobile Services.

With their own skins, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Nothing offer their own versions of the Android interface. The gadgets they ship already have Google Play Protect and GMS, giving users access to years’ worth of security upgrades from Google.

The Android-iOS duopoly is still strong to compete for BharOS

However, creating a real alternative OS on your own from scratch may be a huge undertaking. A completely new operating system requires not just limitless resources but also strong developer support. The iPhone’s App Store, which launched in 2008, may have contributed to the iPhone’s first rise to prominence. Apps were instantly popularized and made available to iPhone users via a welcoming and well-organized storefront.

The Uber and Spotify of the world emerged as the App Store’s popularity soared. The App Store wasn’t created by Apple. It did bring all developers under one roof, marking the birth of the modern mobile ecosystem. Google also hopped on the app bandwagon, but unlike Apple, the business permitted sideloading and third-party shops. With a market share of 71.8%, Android is the most popular mobile operating system right now.

Customers can choose from a variety of features and advantages offered by Android and iOS. But both have also trapped users into their own ecosystems. The current duopoly over mobile devices is protected by the lack of a third or fourth mobile operating system. Microsoft, BlackBerry, and even Samsung have made attempts to develop mobile operating systems that can compete with Android and iOS. Nobody has been able to completely take over our digital lives as Apple and Google have. In contrast to Android, Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system was radically innovative and ahead of its time. The failure of the platform was owing to its inability to draw in outside developers.

Despite India’s own tech ecosystem, apps will be a challenge for BharOS

India has advanced in recent years in terms of developing its tech industry. However, it hasn’t developed to the same extent as China’s to offer substitutes for Google, Facebook, and Amazon. India cannot guarantee a steady stream of apps from local developers as China can on its several Android app stores, even if India creates an alternative to 

Android and offers its own App Store.

For instance, Gmail is the preferred email provider for most users in India, so if the localized version of the App Store does not include Google apps, nobody would want to use it. Additionally, Google or Meta is unlikely to localize their first-party apps for an international app store.

The challenge India will have been persuading smartphone makers to release devices running BharOS. Getting big phone brands, especially local ones, on board may not be simple, even though no formal statement has been made on the list of phone manufacturers expecting to introduce devices using BharOS.

No one would be willing to take a chance on a phone with an entirely new operating system unless the Indian government funds the project and significantly reduces the cost of the handset given the current tech ecosystem, which is so intertwined with multiple stakeholders, including chip makers and software providers. It also doesn’t help that Chinese manufacturer, who sell the majority of Android phones in India, have little incentive to switch to an Indian operating system.

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  • January 26, 2023