After so much flip-flopping over what HongMeng is for, China-based smartphone manufacturer, Huawei, is testing its operating system. The move could potentially start selling HongMeng-run smartphones by the end of the year.
Chinese media are reporting that Huawei is testing whether they could launch smartphones equipped with HongMeng before the year ends. Unnamed sources said that the new smartphones would cost roughly around 2,000 yuan (US$288), which puts the HongMeng device in the lower-end of the smartphone market.
If reports turned out to be accurate, the launching of the HongMeng OS, which Huawei has been developing for over nine years, marks a revolutionary new beginning for the company, who until now, could not entirely rely on Google’s Android operating systems as U.S. sanctions against Huawei and other Chinese companies are accelerating.
Back in May, the United States placed Huawei in the “entity list,” and President Donald Trump signed an executive order that practically banned the company from buying U.S.-made products. To comply with Washington’s ruling, Android’s parent company, Google, revoked Huawei’s license to sell Android-powered smartphones, a move that has threatened the future of the Chinese smartphone superpower.
Google’s ban of Huawei has placed the future of the second biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world in limbo, as users of both Huawei and Honor phones was left uncertain on whether they will receive updates for their Android devices in the future. While both the company and Google clarified that previously manufactured Android-powered Huawei smartphones would not be affected by the ban, many have still questioned what’s in store for Huawei’s future.
In the wake of the Google ban, which was immediately lifted after Trump and China’s Xi Jinping agreed to a truce for the two country’s long-standing trade war, speculations surfaced on Huawei’s development of the HongMeng OS.
Rumors had it that Huawei has been developing HongMeng since 2012 in preparation for incidents like the U.S. ban, which threatens the relationship between Huawei and Google. Others also speculated that Huawei has been testing HongMeng on selected devices under a closed door and closed environment.
However, the rumors were shut down by a Huawei executive saying that HongMeng was developed not for smartphones but other devices in their Internet of Things (IoT) projects.
In an interview, Liang Hua, a high-ranking official from Huawei, said that HongMeng was not developed for smartphones and that the company still prefers Android as their “first choice” for a smartphone OS.
“The Hongmeng OS is primarily developed for IoT devices that will reduce latency… In terms of smartphones, we are still using the Android operating system and ecosystem as a “first choice.” We haven’t decided yet if the Hongmeng OS can be developed as a smartphone operating system in the future,” said Liang Hua.
It is still unclear whether or not Huawei is testing HongMeng for their smartphone lines. However, analysts believe that even if Huawei will be successful in launching their operating system, HongMeng per se, building an app ecosystem that will work for the operating system presents as the company’s biggest challenge.
Analysts argue that if Huawei wants HongMeng to succeed, they should work hard and work fast in developing an app environment and an app marketplace similar to Google Play Store. This is because apps are designed differently in different OS, where apps for Android is developed separately from apps for iOS. Huawei needs to convince app developers than developing a HongMeng version of their applications.
A few months ago, Huawei said to have been sweet-talking developers and networks to get on board, offering different app developers massive investments to develop HongMeng versions of their apps and networks to install their app marketplace in their systems. While it is still unclear if the new app marketplace will be for all new phones or if it will be exclusive to its models only, this seems like a sound solution for Huawei’s problems.
Meanwhile, Huawei still proves its market force when its April to June numbers show growth of 23 percent amidst U.S. sanctions. The growth exhibited by the Chinese company cemented its place as the second-largest phone manufacturer in the world for this year and having enough market power, convincing developers and networks to help them with their HongMeng dilemma.