CHINESE PHONE MAKER Huawei has reportedly been developing its own alternatives to Android and Windows 10 since it became the subject of a US national security investigation in 2012.
The South China Morning Post has the scoop, having heard from four people familiar with the company's plans that Huawei is "developing and perfecting" its own smartphone OS to prepare for "worst-case scenarios". The firm is also working on its own OS for tablets and PC devices, the sources added, should it be barred from using Windows.
Work on the OSes is said to have begun in 2012, when the US government labelled Huawei, along with fellow Chinese firm ZTE, a threat to US national security. Earlier this month, things took a turn for the worse for ZTE after the US Department of Commerce slapped the company with a seven-year supply ban, which could cost the firm its Android license.
With Huawei under similar pressure from US gov, and reportedly under investigation by US authorities for possible violations of sanctions banning sales to Iran, the firm's homegrown OSes are being primed for if it finds itself being slapped with similar sanctions.
The company has not released the OS because it's "not as good as Android", the report notes, adding that the as-yet-unnamed platform does not have many third-party apps developed for it.
According to SCMP's report, the plan was initiated by Huawei's founder Ren Zhengfei.
"We are developing our own OS out of strategic consideration, because won't we be doomed if they suddenly cut off our food, don't allow us to use Android or Windows 8," Caijing quoted Ren as saying in a meeting with Huawei executives back in 2012.
Huawei is ready should it be barred from buying chips from the likes of Qualcomm, having developed its own Kirin processors for use in such a scenario.
"Similarly, I don't oppose buying high-end chips from the US when we are also developing our own high-end chips," Ren said. "I think we should use their high-end chips as much as possible to understand it well. When they no longer sell their chips to Huawei, we'll be able to use our own chips in large quantities, even if they're a bit inferior, they can still be used."
In a statement given to SCMP, Huawei said that it "has no plans to release its own OS in the foreseeable future", adding: "We focus on products powered by Android OS and adopt an open attitude towards mobile OS."
However, Zhao Ming, president of Huawei subdidiary Honor, confirmed last week that the alternative OSes are in development, saying the work was a "matter of capacity and necessity."
"There is no doubt that Huawei is capable of doing it, but for now I don't think it is necessary since we work very closely with Google and will continue to use its Android system," Ming added. µ
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