Huawei develops own smartphone OS in case of Android ban

(Image credit: Shutterstock) (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Huawei has built its own PC and mobile phone operating systems as a contingency plan should it be barred from using Android, the company has revealed.

Heightened political tensions between the US and China, along with Huawei’s legal difficulties in America, have increased fears that the company might face a similar punishment to the one imposed on rival ZTE last year.

ZTE was found to have violated a previous settlement for violating US trade sanctions against Iran and barred from dealing with US companies.

Huawei OS

This saw it unable to procure the components necessary for its smartphones and networking equipment and brought into question its ongoing ability to use the Google-developed Android. ZTE virtually shut down for four months and only the intervention of US President Donald Trump ended questions about the firm’s survival.

Given Apple and Google account for virtually the entire smartphone OS market, any barrier to accessing the US market would be a huge blow for Huawei’s ambitions. It is currently the world’s second largest smartphone maker and has the goal of overtaking Samsung next year.

Attempts to create a third viable platform have been unsuccessful over the past decade. BlackBerry 10, Samsung Tizen and Firefox OS are but three failed projects, while Windows Mobile enjoyed modest success before Microsoft gave up too.

The South China Morning Post reports that Huawei has been working on an alternative since 2012 and in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt, the company’s mobile head confirmed the software’s existence.

“We have prepared our own operating system, if it turns out we can no longer use these systems [Android], we will be ready and have our plan B,” Yu is quoted as saying.

A company spokesperson reportedly added clarification, adding that Huawei didn’t expect to have to use the platforms and didn’t really want to as it was happy with Android and Windows.

Huawei has largely been excluded form the US market over national security concerns, but its challenges have multiplied and escalated in recent months.

It faces 23 charges of bank fraud, obstruction of justice and technology theft in two separate indictments. The first concerns 13 counts of financial fraud, the breaching of economic sanctions against Iran, and money laundering, while the second involves 10 counts of theft and charges related to the theft.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.