Why not Ridmik? | undefined – The Business Standard

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May 02, 2023
As of today, the most popular android Bangla keyboard Ridmik keyboard has been downloaded more than 50 million times from the google play store. It has a rating of 3.9 out of 5. Another popular keyboard that users type in Bangla, named ‘Bangla Keyboard’ has been downloaded one million + times and after 45,000 reviews, it has a rating of 4.5. 
On the other hand, Bijoy Android Keyboard has been downloaded more than 100,000 times and has a rating of 1.1. All of the aforementioned keyboards are free to download. 
Ever since the announcement (Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has recently made it mandatory to use the Bijoy Android Package Kit on all imported and locally-manufactured android mobile phones), there has been a lot of buzz around the topic. Critics have called into question the legality of the order by BTRC. Questions have been raised about the conflict of interest since the order mentions a particular product by a name so closely associated with the Minister of Posts, Telecommunications & Information Technology. 
Is this the right move to ensure easy access to the Bangla keyboard for android users, what are the justifications behind such a directive and is there a better way to solve the issue? 
“I think this move might be a little unfair to other keyboard developers. Yes, when the Bijoy keyboard was first introduced, it revolutionised the Bangla typing scene [Bijoy Bangla keyboard was released on 16 December 1988]. However, there are now, other software developers in the market. In my humble opinion, this might ruin the atmosphere of healthy competition amongst business entities. 
There is scope for the Bangladesh Competition Commission to look into the issue to discern whether this might be considered monopolistic or not,” said Barrister Tapas K Baul, Advocate, Bangladesh Supreme Court.
One criticism aimed at the announcement is the fact that the notice does not mention any laws it might be trying to enact, so the justification behind the order remains vague.
“The justification behind any such order must be looked into and the law behind such order also needs to be stated,” explained Barrister Tapas.
The government holds the right to promote a type of product or service in the nation’s best interest. However, should a particular vendor or brand be mentioned in a notice of this kind or should a particular set of specifications or ‘standard’ be the way to go? More importantly, perhaps, can the government make the use of a particular product or brand mandatory? 
“Let me give you an example. When the government asked everyone to decrease their plastic usage and move to jute-based products, they did not specify which jute from which brand, and they did not ask people to use jute from government jute mills only. However, there are specifications about what grade or quality of jute can be used for what.
So, there could be multiple Bangla keyboards in every android phone; the user should be given the choice of which keyboard they would like to use,” explained Barrister Tapas.
Experts say that government directives like this should have a clear objective. So, what was the justification behind the order?
“I think the government has taken this decision to encourage Bangla in all facets of our lives. As soon as you buy a new phone, you have a Bangla keyboard in it. But should that software necessarily be Bijoy, there is room for further deliberation on that part. 
If BTRC says each new phone should come with any Bangla keyboard, that would be the best way to go about things,” said Syed Almas Kabir, President, of the Bangladesh Association of Software & Information Services (BASIS), adding, “I don’t believe this will have any major impact on phone prices. Phone importers can simply ask vendors to preinstall this software like other preinstalled software. It might cost them a few cents more, but it is highly unlikely end-users will be impacted.” 
There have been claims that the Bijoy keyboard is the only Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) approved keyboard. The current national keyboard standard – which uses the Bijoy layout – was adopted by the BSTI on 26 February 2018 after the draft was finalised by Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC).
“The BSTI-approved ‘standard’ layout is called the national keyboard. The latest iteration of our national keyboard, approved by the government, uses the Bijoy layout. One or two keys might differ. So you can put it like this: both keyboards use the same layout,” explained Almas.
Telecoms Minister Mustafa Jabbar has come out and offered an explanation regarding why all android smartphones sold in Bangladesh must be pre-installed with the Bijoy Android Package Kit.
The minister told the media that everyone wants a way to type in Bangla after getting a mobile phone in Bangladesh and the government wants to ensure users have a way to type in Bangla for free on their mobile phones. And since BSTI has recognised the Bijoy keyboard layout as ‘standard’, Bijoy has been mentioned in the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) guideline (the order announced) by name. Additionally, mobile companies will also get them (software) for free. 100% free, with no ads or anything. Users can use it completely free. 
“There is no reason to think that Mustafa Jabbar will earn crores through this announcement,” he told members of the press, “There is no business involved here.” 
The minister also said that in 2017, the Bangladesh Computer Council recommended Bijoy as the standard keyboard for smartphones and computers. Based on this recommendation, the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) recognised Bijoy. 
The recent decision came as a result of these recommendations.
“It is only mandatory for local manufacturers and importers to install the app on their devices. However, customers are free to use it or uninstall it from their devices. They can use any keyboard they want,” he told reporters, “Bijoy has an android version, which can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store.”  
Ridmik / Bijoy keyboard
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