Huawei is getting closer, it seems, to the day when it will begin relying on a Plan B mobile operating system to replace the reliance it’s enjoyed up to this point on Google’s Android, which the Chinese consumer electronics giant is in danger of losing access to soon thanks to US sanctions.
As far as what form Huawei’s back-up OS will take, when it will roll out and where — those details are still a bit sketchy. However, the company has begun trademarking its “Hongmeng” operating system in at least nine countries, as well as Europe, which could be read as a sign that plans for the company’s much-speculated-about Android replacement are starting to firm up.
That news comes via Reuters, which notes that Huawei has started filing for the Hongmeng trademark in countries like Cambodia, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand, and Peru. It’s a direct result of what Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer division, said earlier this year was the backup OS the company has been prepping for just such a turn of events like this, apparently long ago envisioning a day when it would need to wean itself off a reliance on US companies.
President Trump’s move in recent weeks to put Huawei on a blacklist that bans US companies from doing business with the Chinese brand almost immediately led to chatter that Huawei’s ambition of one day being the biggest smartphone maker in the world just got kneecapped. Since then, the company has been racing to figure out how to deal with the US-led opposition which threatens to cut it off from parts suppliers to, arguably worst of all, Google — which means existing Huawei smartphones couldn’t get Android updates or security fixes, and new Huawei smartphones would not have access to Android or the Google Play Store at all.
The smartphone industry, of course, is littered with the carcasses of operating systems that tried to break a lock on the iOS-Android duopoly, which is another reason why Huawei’s next steps here are so perilous. And why its replacement OS will have a high mountain to climb, to say the least.
As another curveball to this story, there have also been reports in recent days that Huawei could decide to work with Russia and use a Russian-created OS as an Android replacement. Which would, of course, present a whole new series of concerns.