Huawei Moves Ahead with Android Alternative

Frank Lenk

Published: 06/14/2019 01:39:45 PM EST in Mobile

Huawei Moves Ahead with Android Alternative

Reuters is reporting that Huawei is "in the process of potentially launching" its own alternative to Google's Android.

The new OS is referred to as HongMeng. Reuters quotes Andrew Williamson, Huawei Vice President of Public Affairs and Communications, as stating: "It's not something Huawei wants. We're very happy of being part of the Android family, but HongMeng is being tested, mostly in China."

Other reports cite World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) data, indicating that Huawei has filed for a trademark on HongMeng in at least nine countries, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Peru and Cambodia.

According to China Daily, Huawei has already shipped 1 million smartphones with HongMeng software installed, for testing. It suggests that the OS is "compatible with all Android applications," and has "increased security functions to protect personal data." The report quotes a Huawei executive as saying that the OS would be available "as early as this fall or next spring at the latest." (Most sources agree that HongMeng devices would likely appear in 2020.)

China Daily says that Huawei is planning for the OS to support phones, computers, tablets, TVs, cars and wearable devices.

Rapid development of an alternative version of Android is made feasible (albeit far from trivial) by the open-source foundation of the operating system. Non-Google versions of Android have been in limited use all along, employing the system's software foundation, but omitting various proprietary Google components, such as Google Play. However, Google's relatively benign stewardship of the Android platform has provided little incentive for these alternatives to gain wide market acceptance.

That situation changed with the US ban, which forced Google to suspend its licensing agreements with Huawei. Ironically, this not only produced an immediate financial harm to Google (along with other US and European companies), but also created a vacuum that's likely to be filled by Chinese technology.

A previous report from the Financial Times states that Google has expressed its concern to the US government. Google has apparently argued that forcing Huawei to develop a competing flavor of Android could bifurcate the Android ecosystem, create a potentially less-secure version. Obviously, it could also damage Google's dominance over the Android platform, on which the vast majority of mobile devices are currently based, worldwide.

On the positive side (such as it is), consumers globally might derive some benefit from the entry of a second, strongly competitive Android supplier. But if the goal were simply to increase competition, Trump's Huawei ban would have to be seen as doing it the hard way.

Article Tags:  Google, Huawei, HongMeng, Android, China, Trump


Huawei Moves Ahead with Android Alternative

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