Since the invasion of Ukraine, numerous Western companies have withdrawn from Russia. And even if there are still iPhones and high-end Android phones in Russia, there seems to be a desire to become more independent in the future.
Despite the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine and countless sanctions from the western world, coveted smartphones are still very easy to buy in Russia. Anyone who clicks through the offer from “Ozon.ru” or “Yandex Market” can hold an iPhone 14 Pro in their hands in Russia tomorrow. In terms of price, the Russian providers are even below the RRP for Germany.
According to the Russian website “Cnews”, people in Russia are still skeptical about what the future will bring. Both Apple and many Android manufacturers are no longer officially represented in Russia, and there could be more and more licensing problems with Android, since Google services are no longer fully available in Russia.
100,000 Russian smartphones by the end of 2023
Alexander Kalinin, founder of the Russian tech company NCC, therefore announced that he wants to build his own devices with the Russian operating system Aurora OS by the end of the year. Specifically, Kalinin spoke of 100,000 devices and an investment of 10 billion rubles, which corresponds to around 124 million euros. The announcement follows a US export ban on smartphones costing more than $300. Kalinin wants to supply ten percent of the Russian market within just three years.
According to a report by “CNN”, Russia is currently extremely dependent on China when it comes to technology – more than ever. According to this, Chinese manufacturers currently have a market share of 95 percent, with Xiaomi alone accounting for a whopping 53 percent. It is followed by Realme with 27 percent. Apple and Samsung are now in the low single digits.
Experts consider the news about the Russian smartphone to be a PR stunt, especially since the full-bodied announcement was not even followed by a prototype that could have been used to see progress. There is also no name for the supposed device.
Developing your own smartphone makes little sense – at least in the current situation. Because not only manufacturers of end devices have stopped trading with Russia, but also suppliers of high-performance chips, such as Qualcomm. That would make it very difficult for Kalinin to put together a competitive device unless you also take on the development of your own chips.
Aurora OS is not yet suitable for the masses
The aforementioned Aurora OS is still in its infancy. The system is based on Linux and belongs to the Russian state-owned company Rostelecom. So far, however, it was only intended for the government and does not support any Android apps. How difficult it is to develop a new software platform for smartphones can be seen from Huawei and its in-house Harmony OS as well as the alternative App Store “App Gallery”. To date, the mega corporation has not managed to offer a native solution for all Android apps. And this despite the fact that Huawei serves a much larger market than the Russian smartphone does.
If Kalinin wants to achieve the ambitious goal by the end of the year, his company should actually already be at the concrete development stage. But he explained to local media that they are currently “weighing different options”, such as production in Russia or contract manufacturing in China. It would also be conceivable to use ready-made devices from foreign manufacturers and to adapt them a little. However, there could only be limited talk of a Russian smartphone of its own.
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