Sina technology news on March 14, Beijing time afternoon news, a government document shows that India plans to introduce a new regulation, forcing smartphone manufacturers to allow users to uninstall pre-installed applications.
Analysts said the move could lead to delays in the launch of new products in India by major smartphone makers. It will also hurt handset makers like Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi in terms of pre-installed apps.
Currently, most smartphones come preloaded with apps that can't be deleted, such as Samsung Pay mini and Apple Inc. 's Safari browser.
Under the new legislation, smartphone makers will have to offer uninstall options and new models will be checked for compliance by laboratories authorised by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), two people familiar with the matter said.
The government is also considering mandatory screening of every major operating system update before rolling it out to consumers.
The majority of smartphones used in India come with pre-installed apps, which could pose serious privacy and information security concerns, according to an Indian government conference paper. The document also shows that the closed-door meeting was attended by representatives of Samsung, Apple and several Chinese smartphone makers.
The Indian government will give smartphone makers one year to comply with the new rules after they take effect, but no date has been set, the document added.
Currently, India is the second largest smartphone vendor in the world. The Indian smartphone market is dominated by Chinese vendors, with Xiaomi, Vivo and OPPO accounting for almost half of total sales, according to research firm Counterpoint. Samsung has 20 percent of the market and Apple has 3 percent.
While the European Union also requires smartphone vendors to allow users to remove pre-installed apps, there is no screening mechanism to check compliance, as in India.
In response, an industry executive said some pre-installed apps, such as cameras, are so crucial to the user experience that the Indian government must distinguish between them and non-essential apps when implementing screening rules.
Smartphone makers have been known to sell devices that often come pre-loaded with proprietary apps, but sometimes with other apps they have a money-making deal with.
Another concern: More testing could lengthen smartphone approval times, another industry executive said. Currently, it takes about 21 weeks for a smartphone and its components to be tested by government agencies for safety compliance.
"It's a huge hindrance to the handset makers' market strategy," the executive said.
Responsible Editor: Zheng Zhuo
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