Xiaomi may be working on its own Linux based MiOS to ship with MI4 next year
Some Chinese sites report that Xiaomi may be working on their own smartphone OS, know internally as MiOS, which could ship with the next flagship – MI4.
The OS has Linux kernel and runs apps through browser, which probably means HTML5/JavaSript based apps similar to Mozilla OS. The MiOS started as Xiaomi R&D project this April.
Creating an alternative OS to Android, when all of your current products run on Google’s mobile OS, might look like a risky move. Despite proclamations to the contrary, Google is pretty jealous about Android. Last year they forced Acer to cancel an almost ready to ship smartphone based on Alibaba’s Android fork, by threatening to pull license for Google mobile apps such as Play Store, Gmail and Maps.
But for Chinese company like Xiaomi, things are different. Since Google pulled out of China few years ago, very few Android phones over there use any of its services. MIUI – Xiaomi’s heavily customized Android skin, doesn’t use any, too. It has its own app store, and local services like Baidu as alternatives to Google mobile apps. For now, Xiaomi was very careful not fork Android, and used latest openly available versions for its phones, fully preserving app compatibility.
But should they decide to fork Android, or create its own mobile OS, Google will have very little leverage to persuade them not to. Just as they couldn’t do anything to Amazon’s Android fork and app store.
The question is – why would Xiaomi want its own smartphone OS? What’s wrong with the current model, using the latest open source Android version, and skinning it like crazy to suit your needs?Especially when you have serious international expansion plans. A smartphone with no Google services and Play Store is good and well in China, where nobody else have them and alternatives abound. Selling such a phone outside of China, will be a totally different thing. And what about 20 million of current MIUI users, who expect their apps to be fully compatible with Android?
Maybe Xiaomi founders see things differently. Having built a company from zero to $5 billion in yearly sales in 3 years, they proved they have some non-standard ideas how to make the smartphones work. But even if there is a MiOS under development in Xiaomi’s R&D labs, it’s hard to believe its anything more than an experimental project at this point.