No one knows exactly what will happen to Huawei in around two months, when a US executive order
is (theoretically) set to come into effect
, essentially banning the Chinese tech giant from doing business with long-time partners like Google
, Qualcomm, Intel
, and possibly even Arm
, to name just a few.
But the world's number one manufacturer of telecommunications equipment and number two vendor of smartphones
is sure doing everything it can to be prepared for any and all scenarios, including an increasingly likely situation in which the company would need to quickly roll out a homebrewed replacement for the most popular mobile operating system.
Hongmeng trademarks all over the place
If Huawei's mission to sell Western consumers on a software platform devoid of Google services and possibly many other US-made apps
didn't feel tricky enough, try imagining said OS being called Hongmeng. While various tipsters claimed that was merely an internal codename, recent trademark applications filed in Europe and "at least" nine other countries suggest a different story.
There's a very good chance Huawei's Android substitute will end up being known as Hongmeng to the global public rather than Ark OS
, which is arguably a much cooler-sounding moniker, or the simple and straightforward Huawei OS handle. Of course, what will ultimately make or break the "Hongmeng" project will be its substance rather than its name. We're talking features, apps, system speed, security, usability and all that.
A faster OS than Android?
They say one million devices running a pre-release version of Hongmeng have already been shipped for testing purposes, and Huawei reportedly assigned the mission to evaluate the OS in its current state to not only its own employees, but people from the outside as well. Namely, employees of tech and entertainment giant Tencent, as well as Oppo and Vivo engineers.
Early conclusions are that the OS is a whopping 60 percent faster than Android, which seems... pretty far-fetched. The number also doesn't mean anything outside of the right context, as we don't know exactly what version or fork of Android was tested and what kind of tests were performed. Finally, speed is just a small piece of a much larger puzzle that needs to come together to make an operating system good.
One analyst is expecting an October limited release
As Huawei executives continue to play the mystery card, saying the official launch date of Hongmeng or Ark OS is a "secret", industry pundits are trying to crack the case on their own using inside information and educated guesswork. A Tianfeng Securities analyst thinks an October release is on the cards, but at least at first, Huawei could keep the OS exclusive to low-end devices, as its features may not initially meet the needs of high-end users outside of China.
If that's true, it's not clear what will happen to the Mate 30
flagship expected out in the fall. We're guessing Huawei's next big thing could be made available exclusively in China or perhaps run a different OS in foreign markets.
Either way, the company is still predicted to exceed a grand total of 200 million smartphone shipments this year, which sounds a little over the top
considering the uncertainty surrounding Huawei's future relations with a slew of major partners and key components suppliers. Believe it or not, the Tianfeng analyst reckons Huawei could even sell as many as 225 million mobile devices in 2019, although the brand has already taken a big hit
in a number of markets
. And the US ban is not even in place yet.