“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.” — Robert Frost
For Huawei too, life must go on. The Chinese smartphone giant, who was served a blanket ban by Google last week following orders from the US Department of Commerce, is building its own operating system (OS) to replace Android.
Huawei might call it ‘Ark OS’ and is believed to have already trademarked the name with the European Union Intellectual Property Office. In fact, it may have trademarked a few other names too, including ‘Huawei Ark’, ‘Ark’, and ‘Huawei Ark OS’, according to Android trackers.
The OS is expected to be ready for China by the end of 2019, and an international rollout is likely in 2020. Ark OS would be compatible with smartphones, tablets, PCs, TVs, connected cars, smartwatches, and other wearable devices.
Although the company has not yet announced a formal launch date, a few of its officials have hinted that Huawei has been working on “Plan B” (that is, life after Android) for a while now. The project is codenamed “HongMeng”.
Huawei jumps ahead of Apple in tough smartphone market
Alaa Elshimy, Managing Director & Vice President of Huawei Enterprise Business Group – Middle East, told TechRadar,
“Huawei knew this was coming and was preparing. The OS was ready in January 2018 and this was our ‘Plan B’. We did not want to bring the OS to the market as we had a strong relationship with Google and others, and did not want to ruin the relationship.”
Users – more than 200 million own Huawei smartphones – can download all apps from the Huawei AppGallery.
While Android is banned by the Great Firewall in Huawei’s home market of China (and there are local alternatives for users), the rest of the smartphone world pretty much runs on it. So, it is left to be seen if Ark OS can match up to Play Store’s volume and depth.
Huawei is also rumoured to be launching its own ARM-based processor to replace chipsets manufactured by Intel, with which it can no longer do business. The trade ban also affects the phone maker’s ties with Qualcomm, Broadcom, Flex, and others. It essentially means that not just software, but even the hardware of Huawei smartphones would be very different going ahead.