Russia (Yes, The Country) Looking To Enter The Tablet Market

from the new-state-sponsored-tablet-or-cross-dresser's-quarters dept

The world of tablet computing is highly competitive and everyone's looking to get in on the action. The latest entrant has something going for it that its closest competitors can't touch: the weight of one the most powerful governments in the world.

Russia, yes that Russia, is looking to produce its own tablet, unfortunately titled the “RuPad.” It should do well, considering it should be able to corner every market (but the black one) and become the “must have” tablet for both Russian government employees and the general public alike. There's nothing like the implicit threat of general statist unpleasantness to move a few thousand units.

Unlike Android tablets elsewhere in the world, the RuPad will provide users with unprecedented privacy, protecting their info from rogue capitalists like Google:

“The operating system has all the functional capabilities of the Android OS, but does not contain the covert functions of sending private user data to Google headquarters,” Andrey Starikovsky, the general director of the university-based company behind the tablet, told Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.

So, rather than being subjected to targeted personal ads and personally-tailored MPAA-approved search results, Russian citizens will have their personal data harvested by an entity with a long history of disappearing people away into labor camps for little more than looking at the government the wrong way. (I know, I know. That was the old way. The new, friendly Russia just imprisons people for singing partly-naked protest songs and censors the hell out of the web.)

On the bright side, Russians won't have to waste much time comparison shopping or camping out overnight for the latest iThing. I'm sure the RuPad will come highly recommended by salespeople wishing to keep their jobs and family members intact.

The expected retail price isn't exactly consumer-friendly (15,000 rubles/$460), but when you've got a powerful built-in market for your product, competitive prices aren't really a concern.

Developers at the ministry's Central Scientific Research Institute said their main client is—and will probably always be—the state and its top brass. “The military version will be shock- and water-proof,” Russian media quoted production unit director Andrei Starikovsky as telling Rogozin at the presentation. 

Like the GLONASS satelitte system before it, the RuPad appears to be another state project that results in something usable by the general public. But for it to be Mother Russia-approved, the Android system has to be purged of its innate data harvesting properties. This homegrown Android version may have a chance for some stress testing as soon as it goes live, as Project Manager Dmitry Maikhailov has boldy invited hackers to punch holes in the system.

“They are not afraid of Google or the US government stealing things per se. They are afraid of leaks in general,” the operating system's project manager Dmitry Mikhailov told AFP. “There is nothing like this operating system on the market. It is hack-proof,” Mikhailov claimed. “There are people who are clamouring for this.”

Despite insistence that this is a “military-first” project, pre-orders have already begun piling up, at least according to the manufacturer. And maybe there is a crowd of wealthier Russians looking to get their hands on some retail-ready military hardware. It worked for the Humvee. Why not a “shockproof, waterproof, hackerproof” tablet that runs a proprietary version of Android? (Currently sporting the name “RoMOS,” which looks to be another possible name for the tablet itself.) 

One would imagine the government/military version would come with all needed software pre-loaded, but the average consumer might need to do a bit of rooting in order to install anything that isn't Russia-approved. Google has been kicked to the curb app-wise, as well:

“Some of the components will be imported, and the assembly will be carried out by a Russian-based leading defense institute. We excluded Google Market from it for safety reasons,” said Starikovsky.

There's no firm release date (“before the end of 2012”) on the RuPad/RoMOS/ANTiGoogle, but considering the operating system has been in development for “over five years,” it would seem like “any day now” would be a good bet. Of course, it's headed to the military and top government officials first, so it could be several more months before the specs make it out into the wild. Until the illustrious debut of the People's Tablet, feast your eyes on the Glorious Past of Russian Komputing!

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Comments on “Russia (Yes, The Country) Looking To Enter The Tablet Market”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“Russia just imprisons people for singing partly-naked protest songs and censors the hell out of the web.”

I am not nearly Russian but how can you attack russia so much on this when in the USA the same things are starting to happen?

Companies blocking foreight companies access to a fair market (Apple vs Samsung), you don’t have much free speech at all in the USA by the things i read most of the time. People get arrest for saying something against the government, laws being made to give powers to the police in protests

Next step is politians refering to the USA as the fatherland

Hail Fascist America 2012!

LibreMan says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I do not think you rushed it, you’re totally right. I was cringing all the way reading this article and its cold war propaganda, has the author just woken up from a cryogenic sleep?

Did he miss which country can assassinate (yes, assassinate) its citizens at the whims of its dict..ehm..president, has prison camps all around the world, which country was busted for spying on millions of its citizens, persecutes whistle-blowers, is waging multiple wars and seriously thinks about and an act of aggression, an act of war against a country that never attacked it – in fact using NUCLEAR weapons against that country (yes, “bunker busters” are nuclear warheads).

It’s certainly not Russia now, is it?

And if they try to throw away all the spying junk from Android which has been criticized for exactly that by several digital rights organizations (like EFF) instead of being hailed for the efforts THIS is what you up with?

It’s like listening to a clueless neo-con who checks his bed for undercover Russians before going to sleep, get real and a little objectivity wouldn’t hurt. Playing on old stereotypes might be fun but is also insulting your readers intelligence.

Of course we need to be careful what they put out as always and Russia is no saint but this is taking it too far, I truly wanted to throw something on the screen while reading. Do not encourage Americans in their delusions, it’s the only way they’re going to wake up and DO something about their own government!

LibreMan says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

I know what gets covered on TechDirt and most of the time I find it very well reasoned and argued. But I was not commenting on all of TechDirt, I was commenting specifically on this article, how you came to miss that? I’ve even mentioned the author specifically, who is not Mike Masnick which I suspect is the reason why this article stands out.

How come when people hear facts that are uncomfortable to them they tend to “misunderstand” such as the above? 😉

Just as you both jumped on the possibility that maybe not all bunker busters are nuclear – as if the extrajudicial assassination, torture camps, warrantless wiretapping was all ok with you … just as dropping bombs preemptively on a country, as long as they might not be nuclear is actually ok, right?

Yes, there are non-nuclear versions – maybe the US would be kind enough to commit aggressive act of war just with those, then it would be ok I suppose if you find it so important to point out.

I mean, do you have any sense of proportion, or any priorities or something? How can you obsess about minor vagueness in my post and ignore the major point? That actually sums up all American politics in general (or any other actually) – obsessing about irrelevant nonsense while the really big and important issues get overlooked and ignored.

Words fail me at expressing how depressing, sad and insulting to the potential victims of those bombs I find the fact that you choose to focus your attention on a way they get bombed rather than on the fact that there should never be bombs dropping on their heads.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I think you’re going a little far afield of what the article is actually about. Calm down, have some dip, and reread it. Your perspective isn’t being dismissed out of hand, but we aren’t talking about America. We’re talking about Russia. And we’re talking about technology. Nothing you’ve brought up has anything at all to do with it.

JMT says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“But I was not commenting on all of TechDirt, I was commenting specifically on this article, how you came to miss that?”

You’re not really making much sense. You launched into a rant that basically said “Why are you criticising Russia when the US does all these terrible things?!” My point is, we know. You haven’t educated anybody on anything.

“Just as you both jumped on the possibility that maybe not all bunker busters are nuclear…”

Bunker busting bombs have been around since WWII and have been used quite a bit since then, including modern conflicts. Nuclear versions have never been used. It’s a fact that most are non-nuclear.

As for the rest of your post, you sound like you lead a very sad and anguished existence. Or you’re a troll. Not sure.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Depends on who’s saying it really.

If it was the US government pointing such things out and objecting, then yeah, that would be just a titch hypocritical and a case of ‘pot calling the kettle black’, but someone in the US can point out human rights violations just fine.

Far as the ‘fatherland’ bit, the US apparently decided that that would be just a tad too obvious, and went with ‘homeland’ instead.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Your comment to my comment about your comment is bad, you should feel doubly as bad.

Or triply given the subtle hint about the pointlessness of stating a blanked conclusion with out explaining the reasoning behind it seems to have been to subtle. Or maybe I should feel bad for that, I may have expected too much from you.

ComputerAddict (profile) says:

Re: Re:

But when you control the App Market (and block Play Market, and probably Amazon Market) you can control which browsers are allowed too… and very well could block not only languages like Javascript / Flash / etc. but could also fail to fully implement HTML 5. I hear Links is a pretty safe browser they could use. I mean they don’t even allow pictures!

anon says:


To be honest most of the Russian first look like they could have been made in America/China
I don’t think there is any reason to be demeaning to Russia, I for one would like to see the tablet they design, seeing they have almost unlimited money for investing in it it might actually be really good.

Yes there have been some terrible court cases in Russia recently but in all honesty nobody can deny that America has had some really disgraceful cases in the press over the last 20 years,some way worse than those we have seen in the press recently.So why is the media in all it’s glory demeaning Russia when they have hardly discussed what is happening there over the last 20 years, is it to make Americans feel better about the fact that they are losing or have lost there Democracy over the last 20 years.

I for one do not have any opinion on Russia as I have not read anything about them other than the blatant attacks on them by America.

Anonymous Coward says:

Is it wrong that I kinda want one?

OK, maybe not for that price. But if I’m in the USA, which is going to affect me more: the Russian gov’t spying on me (a place I have no ill will towards, am not planning to visit, and really don’t say anything bad about that could even piss them off), or a private US company, who can take my data, sell it to the highest bidder, and stick me with tons of ads I don’t want?

I’m not saying being spied on by a foreign gov’t is a good thing, but the end results don’t really sound that bad…

Bas Grasmayer (profile) says:

I really like Tim, but this shows little understanding of Russia to be honest.

Obviously the tablet will fail. Nobody in the government is interested in this: they all prefer their iPads and other western luxuries. This tablet is being developed for symbolic reasons, period.

Anyway, the issue I have with the article is that it is not balanced. Since moving to Moscow, I’ve been pretty annoyed with how inaccurate and biased western media often is… repeating the same oversimplifications of rather complex events and processes. The problem with this is that you turn a country that’s conflicted, has difficulties stemming from its history, has significant problems in its bureaucracy, and you turn it into something ‘evil’ while it’s actually not a black and white thing.

It’s bullshit and it’s dangerous, because few stand to gain from a black and white world – and those that do stand to gain usually do not have the best intentions. Therefore I’m quite often finding myself disappointed to see even previously trusted media and NGOs also feeding this black/white picture.

I’m not trying to say I agree with everything the Russian government does, far from it, and that’s fine. But systematic generalizations are so uncalled for – especially when it comes to countries which people already have a hard time understanding…

Making a caricature of Russia, fine. The country is funny enough without having to portray it as something evil.

(by the way, turning things into something ‘evil’ dehumanizes them… Which is why every time your bring up anything WW2-related in a discussion, it’s immediately dismissed… as if it couldn’t happen again. As if suddenly half of Europe went crazy for a few years and such a thing could never happen again. It’s nonsense. There’s no such thing as pure evil: all these things are human problems. If we cannot discuss it in a human context, then it will be increasingly difficult to find humane ways to solve differences between countries and their peoples.

Look at Israel & Iran now for instance. Both are reducing each other to something evil. They dehumanize each other, demonize each other, and obstructing humane solutions.)

[/off-topic rant]

Sorry Tim, you don’t deserve all this, but after a bunch of western bias influenced pieces here on TD, I couldn’t really hold it in. Again, I’m not disagreeing, I just get annoyed by the oversimplifications.

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