It doesn’t seem like things will be back to normal for Huawei anytime soon, despite President Trump last month seeming warm to a reprieve for the Chinese tech giant. But not only is Huawei still shut out from buying parts it needs from the US and still banned from selling its phones here — the firm is also reportedly planning to move ahead with ‘hundreds’ of US layoffs at its Futurewei Technologies research subsidiary.
Additionally, the company is still sorting through how to move forward with a new mobile operating system for its handsets, with Huawei presumably soon to be cut off from using Google’s Android OS. Huawei has registered a trademark for — and been publicly talking up — its forthcoming Hongmeng mobile OS, but the company has also just filed a trademark in Europe for the name “Harmony” that would encompass an operating system for mobile devices as well as computers.
More on the new OS name in just a second. News of the layoffs, meanwhile, comes via The Wall Street Journal, which reports that Huawei will allow some Chinese employees of Futurewei (which operates a number of research labs around the US including in Texas and California) to relocate back to China in order to stay with the company. Likewise, some employees have already been notified they’ll be cut loose, and additional layoffs may still be planned.
The news is certainly not surprising, given that the status quo is apparently going to remain in place between the US and Huawei until the US and China resolve their trade differences.
Now, as far as Huawei’s plans for eventually replacing Android on its devices — Somewhat confusingly, there are now actually three names for a Huawei mobile OS floating around at the moment. Those names are Hongmeng, Ark OS and now it’s just been reported by Dutch tech news site LetsGoDigital that Huawei has filed for a trademark with European officials for the OS name “Harmony.” The site reports that Huawei’s application falls under the Class 9 trademark category which includes the description: “mobile operating systems; computer operating systems; downloadable operating system programs.”
Not much else is revealed about Huawei’s plans here, so it could be that these all refer to the same OS, just different names for different regions of the world. The company’s leaders have been saying publicly they’d prefer to stick with Android and not be forced to fall back on a new OS of their own making. However, Google is currently under a temporary license to keep supplying Huawei phones with Android updates, but that license expires in mid-August. Meaning, there’s not much sand left in the hourglass for Huawei to figure out what it’s going to do next along these lines.