Huawei is reportedly working on an Android alternative
Chinese manufacturer Huawei has been developing an alternative mobile operating system since 2012, according to the South China Morning Post.
The strategy was implemented to prepare for “worst case scenarios”, the website claims, after the company was investigated for selling embargoed US technology to Iran in 2012. And apparently it’s got operating systems for tablets and PCs up its sleeves, too.
SCMP’s sources claim the OS hasn’t been released yet because it’s “not as good as Android” and hasn’t had many third-party apps developed for it.
However, the Chinese manufacturer was quick to dismiss the idea that it might ditch Google’s mobile operating system anytime soon. Huawei “has no plans to release its own OS in the foreseeable future”, the company told the news site in a statement. “We focus on products powered by Android OS and adopt an open attitude towards mobile OS.”
Meanwhile, Zhao Ming, president of Honor (a subsidiary of Huawei), said at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing last week, “There is no doubt that Huawei is capable of doing it, but for now I don’t think it is necessary since we work very closely with Google and will continue to use its Android system”.
When will we see Huawai OS?
The idea that Huawei might abandon Android, which has more than an 85% market share in the smartphone industry, might not sound like the most savvy of decisions, especially when you consider how things ended up for Windows Mobile. However, as the “worst case scenario” quote suggests, the Chinese manufacturer is likely preparing for an eventuality that’s both largely out of its control and more likely than you might think.
Indeed, earlier this month, Reuters announced that ZTE, which was investigated for similar offences to Huawei in 2012, could lose its Android license after US suppliers were banned from working with the Chinese telecoms manufacturer. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre also advised telecoms businesses against working with the Shenzhen-based company, because it would have a “long term negative effect on the security of the UK”.
The difference between ZTE and Huawei is that the former pleaded guilty to illegally shipping US components to Iran, while Huawei hasn’t admitted to any wrongdoing. However, US authorities have been probing the manufacturer since at least 2016 for its potential violations of US export laws, as reported by the NY Times. When you consider that the FBI warned consumers not to trust products from either ZTE or Huawei in February the idea of it also losing its Android license suddenly doesn’t feel so farfetched.
Huawei is China’s largest smartphone manufacturer and the third biggest in the world, behind only Samsung and Apple, so it likely has the resources to make a success of its own mobile OS, at least in the East – especially if it’s been investing in it since 2012. However, until US authorities impose a similar ban to ZTE’s, all I can say is watch this space.