There are hints that Huawei, the World's largest Telecom Equipment company and China's largest private company may be about to announce the launch of its "Plan B" HongMeng OS in response to the US trade ban and uncertainty around future access to Android updates and Google services.
Huawei last year surpassed Apple as the world’s second largest smartphone maker but after the U.S. Department of Commerce added Huawei to a trade blacklist earlier this year Google announced it would stop providing Android updates to Huawei devices and block access to Google services such as Google Play, Gmail, YouTube etc on Huawei phones.
Despite some signs that US companies, including Google, may be able to apply for licenses to trade with Huawei, the more recent escalation of the US / China trade war means there is still a great deal of uncertainty in terms of Huawei’s access to both Android and chip architecture.
It was always unlikely that Huawei would take a gamble on things working out in their favour and as a result has been working to accelerate the development of their HongMeng OS (鸿蒙OS) as an alternative to their current EMUI custom Android ROMp as well as producing their own homegrown Kirin processors (which power the blazing-fast P30 and Mate 20 handsets) independent to the ARM foundation architecture.
Until now, the HongMeng OS was primarily developed as an OS for Smart TVs and IoT devices and reports suggest the company may be about to announce the release of the HongMeng OS at their developer conference in Dongguan, China on August 9th.
Whilst some speculate that the announcement might focus more on HongMeng as the OS for Huawei’s Honor Smart TVs, it appears there will be an announcement concerning the release of a lower-price HongMeng OS smartphone in China before the end of the year. It is unlikely that the new OS will make an appearance on Huawei flagship smartphones or the recently announced EMUI 10 that is also due to be unveiled at the upcoming August 9th developer event.
Previous reports have suggested that Huawei intend that Smartphones running the HongMeng OS will support the majority of Android apps whilst opening up a native HongMeng app development environment to their developer community.
Despite Huawei’s previously stated preference to use Android as long as that is possible, particularly internationally, and even with the intention to support most Android applications, many may chose to develop native apps for the HongMeng OS given Huawei’s 34% smartphone market share in China and 18.9% market share worldwide (Q1, 2019). Particularly given the likely performance / stability concerns associated with non-native apps. So we expect quite a buzz once developers gain access to HongMeng’s development environment.