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Huawei Android alternative set to go live

Huawei has been forced to accelerate the development of its own smartphone operating system by the threat of having Android support taken away.

Arguably the most crippling piece of collateral damage inflicted on Huawei as a result of it being the main proxy in the Trump vs Ping battle of wills was the announcement by Google in May that it might have to stop supporting Huawei Android smartphones as a result of it being put on the entity list, which strictly prohibits US companies from doing business with anyone on it.

Android is the only game in town for all smartphone makers apart from Apple. As Amazon discovered a few years ago, there is zero market demand for even a forked version of Android that doesn’t provide access to the Play Store – something that Google has in its power to take away if it an Android OEM fails to play by its rules.

So none of them would willingly repeat Amazon’s mistake, but Huawei may have that decision taken out of its hands. If that happens even a rubbish OS is better than nothing and Huawei wasted little time in leaking the existence of its own OS soon after the Google announcement.

Now we have Chinese state-run publication Global times quoting anonymous sources as saying this HongMeng OS is set to be released at Huawei’s developer conference later this week. If this does happen we’ll presumably get some choreographed screen-shots, Jobsian superlatives and defiant rhetoric.

Or maybe not. Before we get too carried away it should be noted that HongMeng seems to have originally been intended as an embedded/IoT OS and that Huawei will only use it in smartphones if forced to. We’re led to believe that we’ll start seeing it in tellies before long and that, if necessary, will debut in cheaper smartphones sold in China towards the end of this year.

With all due respect to Huawei and its developers it’s very hard to imagine them coming up with any kind of OS that users would consider an acceptable alternative to Android. It might just be able to get away with it in the Chinese entry-level market, where compatibility with just a few Chinese apps might suffice, but for everyone else Android is a deal-breaker.


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