South Korea to develop its own... smartphone OS, aims to rival iOS, Android

South Korea to develop its own... smartphone OS, aims to rival iOS, Android
Some nations have their own drinks, some stand out with their local customs, but South Korea might be the first one taking pride not only in its kimchi and K-POP, but a government sponsored mobile OS, rivaling Google’s Android platform and Apple’s iOS. The nation houses tech giants Samsung and LG, which will drive development of the new operating system. The project is expected to kick off by the end of the year.

"We will forge ahead in developing a new kind of operating system, which is being seen as a next-generation product, in order to build the kind of advantage we do not enjoy in the market for smartphones and tablet PCs, which is dominated by Google and Apple," Kim Jae-hong, deputy minister at the Ministry of Knowledge Economy announced at a press conference.

He also clarified that Google’s Motorola deal may protect Android in the short term, but he also worriedly mentioned that in the long term the search behemoth might enter the smartphone business. He admitted that the company can’t just switch an open-source system like Android to a closed one overnight.

The Korean OS will be an open project, accessible by the general community in a way similar to Android’s open source nature.

Now, what this means for the industry is not yet clear, but some revealing details from Korea have surfaced. Even though most Android phone makers greeted the Google-Motorola deal, the Korean official hinted that the actual sentiment within companies actually differs from their official statements. Samsung for once, swiftly changed its position on a jointly developed new OS from negative to positive after Google announced the Moto deal.

Could this also translate into the death of Samsung’s own bada platform in the long term? Developing two platforms at the same time seems controversial and if the Korean phone maker takes the government project seriously, the bada project might quietly fade away, but currently that's just a speculation.

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Along with the upcoming smartphone platform, the a consortium of Korean companies will jointly develop an open-source cloud-based OS. Such an OS also reiterates a massive move to the cloud, shifting the focus from the narrow margins of the hardware business to the possibly wider possibility of software profits. Finally, that’s a big fat answer to other companies’ claims (cough, Apple) that Asian manufacturers don’t innovate, isn’t it? We’re yet to see the final result, though, but in the meantime you can share your expectations in the comments below.

source: Yonhap, Chosun Ilbo

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