The global success of Google’s Android smartphone operating system (OS) has pushed Huawei to brainstorm on how it should respond to the ‘threat’ because dependence on the OS could render the company vulnerable to a US ban.
This has led Huawei to build a proprietary OS as a potential alternative to Android in 2012, revealed the Hong-Kong based newspaper the South China Morning Post.
Huawei assembled a specialist OS team headed by executives including Eric Xu Zhijun who is one of the three rotating chairmen for Huawei. The operation was under tight secrecy, with a specialised zone created inside Huawei to house the OS team.
Guards on the door, access only to the OS team, no personal mobile phones allowed were the norm.
The report from the SCMP suggests Huawei went big in its plans to fend-off a future attack from the US and its predictions were right.
When it started to build the OS Huawei had a five per cent share of the global market, it is now the world’s second-biggest smartphone supplier shipping 206 million smartphones in 2018, according to IDC data.
Huawei’s undercover operations came to light after Huawei’s mobile chief Richard Yu Chengdong told a German publication that the company had developed its own OS for both smartphones and computers.
Then came the US government placing Huawei and its affiliates on a trade blacklist that restricts the company from buying services and parts from US companies without approval. Google and Microsoft, whose Android and Windows software Huawei largely relies upon in its smartphones, tablets and laptops, have both suspended access for new Huawei devices, says SCMP.
But Huawei’s plans have its limits. There are risks Huawei’s OS cannot run Android apps making it impossible for the brand users to download Android apps and there are questions whether overseas users will want a phone without the ever popular Google apps.
Google’s Android and Apple’s proprietary iOS have a stranglehold on smartphone operating systems, accounting for 99.9 per cent of the global market, according to Gartner estimates last year, says the paper. -/TISG