The spat between the US government and Huawei was news that took the Chinese company from tech nerd term to house hold name for all the wrong reasons. You can’t buy Huawei phones in the US, and the connotations of Chinese state surveillance attached to Huawei have damaged its reputation and brand.
You can still buy Huawei phones in the rest of the world and they all run Google’s Android OS. But a report via Reuters suggests that despite things looking up, Huawei is testing and may release a smartphone running its own Hongmeng operating system.
The Reuters article, quoting the Chinese state-run Global Times, says the new phone could go on sale by the end of the year. This is a story that keeps changing course given recent reports that Hongmeng wasn’t even an OS after all, so take this latest indication with a pinch of salt. Indeed, a Huawei spokesperson has said that Hongmeng is not preferable to Android and is part of Huawei’s ‘long term strategy’.
But the fact so many reports are surfacing shows that Huawei is in deep and despite its huge recent growth is very cautious of potentially being blocked access to Android, a move that would destroy its western influence.
It’s unclear if Hongmeng OS would even be a valid alternative for the west either given the reliance on Google services and the Play Store – a Huawei built OS would make much more sense for the Chinese and eastern markets where there are multiple app stores and no reliance on Google at all. So while these reports hint at the Hongmeng experiment being true, don’t count on Huawei giving up on Android just yet.