By Yoon Ja-young
A government led plan to develop an operating system (OS) with the country’s major IT companies has drawn doubtful outlooks from experts. They say the government doesn’t understand the aspects of the IT industry, which is different from the manufacturing sector that the government pursued for economic advancement.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy announced Monday that it would set up a project to develop a Web based mobile OS, with a consortium comprising of major IT companies including Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics.
Experts say that the plan is totally unrealistic. “If anybody leads this project successfully, I would say he is ten times greater than Steve Jobs,” said Lee Chan-jin, CEO of Dreamwiz via Twitter.
“Someone may say that we have Samsung (and we can do it). Then, why doesn’t the government leave Samsung Electronics to do it?”
Analysts point out that it took 10 years for Apple to develop an operating system and set up its ecosystem.
Government doesn’t understand open source
“I would advise the government to stop the crazy plan,” said Kim In-sung, an IT columnist and open source developer.
He said the best option for local companies is to concentrate on the Android OS developed by Google. Android is an open source that anybody can use freely, but recently there has been concern in the industry here that Google might turn its back on local manufacturers like Samsung and LG as it acquired Motorola, once the kingpin of the global handset industry.
Kim said the government doesn’t understand how the platform is set up or the characteristics of an open source.
“The competitiveness of a platform is determined by how many participants you can attract to join it. Other (foreign) companies won’t join it,” Kim said.
He said that once the country starts focusing on developing its own OS, it will lose leadership in the Android ecosystem. “If that happens, Korean companies will have to switch to the ‘Korean’ OS or Windows Phone, but that means the end of the game. That’s why HTC of Taiwan announced it will continue cooperating with Google.”
He called it a repetitious prisoner’s dilemma. “In this game, the record of betrayal remains. Google has dedicated itself to Android, and it has no proof of betrayal so far,” he said. “Google may give an advantage to Motorola, but once it starts doing that, Google would lose leadership in Android. Even Google can be ousted from the Android community. That’s how open source works.”
He added that if the government wants to boost competitiveness in the software sector, it had better support colleges or developers, instead of intervening.