China Operating System sets sights on iOS, Android

The official operating system for the Chinese government is attempting to steal market share from American-based competitors Google and Apple.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
Apple and other American companies are under fire in China.
Apple and other American companies are under fire in China. Apple

China Operating System, or COS as it's become known, is poised to take on foreign-born operating systems that are gaining control in China.

That's the word from China's Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which, along with the Chinese government and company Shanghai Liantong, announced COS on Thursday to customers across the country.

China has long taken issue with American-based companies such as Apple, Microsoft, and Google controlling its software market. Last March, in fact, the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology announced that Canonical's Ubuntu Linux would be the official state-endorsed operating system. Now it has a mobile platform all its own to compete with Android and iOS.

According to a study published late last year by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Android devices accounted for 59 percent of the Chinese mobile market in the third quarter. Apple's iOS owned 18 percent. It also doesn't help that the major smartphone vendors in China, like the wildly popular Xiaomi, are offering Android handsets.

Whether COS will turn the tide remains to be seen. The operating system is based on Linux and is designed for handset makers to do with it what they want. According to the Chinese government, the operating system can run on smartphones, tablets, and set-top boxes. HTC appears to be a major partner on the software, says Engadget, which earlier reported on the move. No announcements have yet been made, however.