Gadgets with Russian Software Only?

Gadgets with Russian Software Only?


The deputies of the State Duma have finally adopted a law providing for mandatory pre-installation of Russia-made software on gadgets sold in this country.

The law says that Russian software should be installed as of July 1, 2020. The authors of the document are confident that such rules will reduce the number of violations on the part of foreign companies.

The drafting of these amendments took a long time. Back in September last year, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) presented a “roadmap” on the peculiarities of competition in the field of IT-technologies. It provided that domestic applications would be pre-installed on computer equipment and smart phones. The concept of the Federal Antimonopoly Service assumed that mobile device manufacturers entering the domestic market will be obliged to pre-install Russian applications in the categories like “messenger”, “search”, “antivirus” and “maps.” At that time, it was the electronics manufacturers who opposed this initiative, but MTS, Megafon, Group and Kaspersky Lab supported this initiative. Russoft, the association of Russian software development companies, was also comfortable with an offer of this kind.

The State Duma insists on the user friendliness of the measures, because now Russians will have no need to install various programs and additional mobile applications on their gadgets. Deputies are confident that such a solution will help promote Russian products and make them more competitive on IT market.

In addition, the initiators of the bill (Vladimir Gutenev, Sergei Zhigarev, Alexander Yushchenko and Oleg Nikolaev) have additionally introduced a document on administrative liability for the sale of smartphones and other equipment without Russian software. They offered to impose a fine up to 200,000 rubles on legal entities and up to 50,000 rubles on officials.

Meanwhile, many experts are rather dubious about the innovations. So, Denis Kuskov, the CEO of Telecom Daily research agency, said straightforwardly that such a situation would be nothing short of “forcible competition.” He explained his point of view by the fact that Russia is not producing any laptops or smart phones. So, the country should dole out money to the production of these goods and pre-install Russian software in them but not to meddle “in someone else's product.”

Kuskov specified that after all, a user can decide on this own what he really needs or what he does not need. He also noted a likely hike of prices of the gadgets. And a user will have to dip into their pockets because the manufacturer will spend more time developing new products than planned.

Eldar Murtazin, leading analyst at Mobile Research Group, in his turn, voiced concerns that Apple will simply withdraw from the Russian market. Under the Russian laws most computers and smartphones will have to be equipped with Russian software. And this company simply does not have ideologically this sort of pre-installation of our software. According to Murtazin, Apple might just disagree with these requirements in order to prevent other countries following Russia with similar requirements.

So, in the second half of next year, Apple products will not meet the requirements of the new law and the company might simply leave the Russian market.

There is more to come. Experts, in their turn, say that at present it is not clear who will install Russian software on various equipment. This may be a manufacturer or a seller. Therefore, the logical question arises: will the latter be able to provide the installation technologically? After all, we will need highly qualified specialists and equipment. Currently, smartphones are pre-installed with software from operating system developers such as Google maps on Android and Apple TV and iMovie on iOS. Will Russian specialists be able to cope with the task in such a short time and develop the necessary software to be installed in foreign gadgets?

Meanwhile, it is the list of software to be pre-installed that is raising concerns. Such a list of software and devices will be determined later by the government, and the question is which programs will be included in it. For example, smartphone suppliers to Russia are already pre-installing Yandex and VKontakte. What else can the government demand and who will pay for this work?

It is noteworthy that against the background of lobbying for the interests of Russian developers, consumers themselves have been stayed on the sidelines. Especially those who are ready to use the minimum amount of apps and do not need some extra software on their devices. However, lobbyists do not proceed from the consumers’ requirements, alleging that the manufacturers will have to leave the minimum apps on the gadgets because the user himself will install what he needs. They cater to the needs of corporations.