Huawei Reportedly Developing Its Own OS As An Android Replacement Due To Mounting US Pressure

Huawei Mate 10 Pro

Huawei finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place, as it pertains to its goal of building a mainstream presence in the United States and the blow back the company has faced from major wireless carriers that, at the behest of US intelligence agencies, have avoided partnering with the Chinese telecom. With the pressure mounting to avoid certain Chinese brands, Huawei may say, 'Screw it!' and build its own operating system to use in place of Android.

Citing "people familiar with the matter," the South China Morning Post says Huawei is doing exactly that as it puts into motion a plan that was initiated by company founder Ren Zhengfei as a sort of 'worst case scenario' strategy. As the thinking goes, China should have its own major mobile operating system in place as a backup in case companies like ZTE and Huawei ultimately lose their license to use Google's Android platform.

It's not a far-fetched scenario. The US Department of Commerce recently banned ZTE from buying components from American suppliers, including Qualcomm and Intel, for a period of up to seven years. The ban is part of a wider punishment in response to ZTE pleading guilty to illegally providing telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea, and subsequently lying about its actions. China publicly condemned ZTE's actions as "stupid and passive."

Huawei could face a similar ban, depending on the outcome into a investigation into its own business dealings with Iran. If it is found that Huawei committed similar violations, the US Department of Commerce would likely come down just as hard. But even if that doesn't happen, there is still the issue of distrust by US intelligence agencies, and a reluctance by major wireless carriers in the US (and retailers like Best Buy) to sell Huawei's hardware.

It's said that Huawei hasn't released its home brewed OS yet because it's not as good as Android, and doesn't have nearly as many third-party apps developed for it. There is also the mindset by Zhao that Huawei is not yet at the point where it's absolutely necessary to abandon Android.

“It is a matter of capacity and necessity,” Zhao said when asked about the topic at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing last week. "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."

That said, Huawei is the top-selling smartphone brand in China, and also the world's biggest telecommunications equipment manufacturer. In other words, we're not ready to rule out the possibility that it could forge ahead with its own OS at some point.