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!