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The story behind Hongmeng OS – Huawei's seven-year Android replacement operating project


Shortly after Google stopped licensing Android, Huawei immediately revealed "we have an alternative" with an operating system called Hongmeng OS or Ark OS in the international market. This is not a new development but it is actually a project that has lasted for 7 years, so far revealed. At the same time, hot news from Russia is also testing Russia's Aurora operating system. So Huawei has at least 2 alternatives. The story below revolves around Hongmeng OS:

Lake talk and confidential project:






Huawei CEO – Nham Chinh Phi.

Seven years ago at a romantic lakefront apartment in Shanghai, a group of Huawei senior executives led by Nham Chinh Phi founder conducted a closed meeting that lasted for several days. Their mission is to come up with ideas for post-Android scenarios – the operating system is being used on all Huawei mobile devices. The concern is that dependence on Android could make the company vulnerable to a future US ban and that has happened!



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The group of senior executives has agreed on the development of a separate, potential alternative to Android. This meeting is referred to as the "lake talk" within Huawei and the company restricts employees from accessing meeting-related documents.

After this long discussion with the direction, Eric Xu Zhijun – one of Huawei's current three rotating presidents – formed a group of operating system experts and they started developing an OS of Huawei in particular is in strict confidentiality. Huawei has set aside a specialized area for this development team at the 2012 Laboratories laboratory complex. Outside guarded, only the OS development team members are allowed to enter with a separate registration card, personal phones are not allowed to be brought in.



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Huawei's thousands-square-foot headquarters in Shanghai.

The OS development project became an important part of 2012 Laboratories – a complex built by Huawei for creative research and technology development. The complex is also home to many researchers to develop the most advanced technologies and Huawei invests billions of yuan each year.

Most of the lab's research has not been made public, including the recent development of an operating system that Huawei has acknowledged. After years, when the mobile market was dominated by foreign firms while Huawei had less than 5% of the global market share, the company has now become the second largest smartphone manufacturer on the market. The world with a total of more than 206 million units sold in 2018 according to IDC data and more than half of them are for overseas markets.

Pressure from the US forced Huawei to turn over:

In an email, Huawei's spokesperson said: "As we noted, Huawei has redundant systems but only used in mitigating situations. We fully support your operating systems. We, users and users love to use them, Android and Windows are always our top choices, and at the moment we will do everything in our power to protect customers' interests. "



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Huawei mobile director – Richard Yu.

The talk about Huawei's own operating system started in March this year when mobile director Richard Yu Chengdong told a German newspaper that the company had developed its own operating system for phones and computers. . It can be used in situations where companies are not allowed to use US company operating systems anymore.

The information revealed by Yu coincides with the time when the US began to increase pressure on Huawei to participate in bidding for 5G network infrastructure. Not only restricting US companies from doing business with Huawei, the US also warned allies about the risk of getting intelligence when using Huawei's infrastructure.

The world's leading telecommunications equipment provider is facing a series of accusations such as stealing trade secrets, violating economic sanctions and concealing business deals with Iran through a deal. unofficial subsidiary. However, Huawei has repeatedly denied these allegations and said that the US lacked evidence.

The problem of having a separate operating system becomes even more urgent when in May last year, the US government blacklisted Huawei, banned Huawei from doing business with US companies without approval. Google paused to allow Huawei to use Android on new devices while Microsoft did the same with Windows on Huawei laptops.

Huawei only has about 3 months to prepare before the US prohibits full access to products and services of technology companies in the country. So Huawei finally had to turn the tide on an alternative operating system that has been developed for a long time.

Huawei engineers study Android and iOS to develop their own operating systems:

Huawei's operating system is developed based on a lightweight microkernel and can respond quickly to changes and patches. Engineers working on Huawei's OS project have studied both Android and iOS very carefully to learn from these two leading mobile operating systems.



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Current Huawei phones run Android with customized EMUI interface.

One of the biggest technical challenges for Huawei's OS is compatibility with Android applications, according to one of the closest sources. Compatibility will allow Huawei phones to run this own operating system to download and run Android applications easily. By acquiring an Android-compatible class, application developers will not need to edit the application source code to support Huawei's OS.

In fact, this is not easy because the efforts of many previous companies to create an alternative OS for Android failed. Microsoft tried to develop an Android application compatibility layer on Windows but failed because not all applications can run well. Samsung also tried replacing Android on its smartphone with Tizen OS and now has no new devices running this operating system.



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Ark OS interface.

Similarly, if the OS of Huawei cannot run Android application, the devices running this OS will not have an application ecosystem, thus facing the risk of failure because there are no users, a lesson that many big ones technology in the world has instilled, from Samsung Tizen, Palm to WebOS or Microsoft's biggest failure with Windows Phone.

The name Huawei Hongmeng has been registered by Huawei in China last year and based on publicly available information it is the name of the operating system, translated into English meaning "primitive world". In addition, Huawei registered the name Huawei Ark OS in the European intellectual property office in May.

Huawei is optimistic about Hongmeng OS:

Huawei is optimistic about its OS, which can support many devices and systems in Huawei's ecosystem such as smartphones, computers, tablets, TVs, smart wearable devices and systems for car. Huawei also confirmed that it will be compatible with the current Android application and web-based applications.



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In an internal Huawei chat group, Yu said: "Huawei's operating system is likely to be launched in the fall, definitely before next spring." This chat was scanned and leaked out, becoming a topic of discussion, but Huawei still has no official words.

Many questions are being raised about issues related to user experience as well as whether international users will accept a phone running a separate operating system that lacks popular Google applications? Android and iOS are still the two largest mobile platforms in the world, both accounting for 99.9% of global market share according to Gartner statistics last year.

Meanwhile, Huawei is confident about Hongmeng OS's prospects at China home field. The company believes that local developers and users will support and build a rapid ecosystem for this OS. Huawei's smartphone sales continue to rise in the domestic market despite difficulties and sanctions facing. Huawei's devices for the Chinese market, although running Android, never have built-in Google services to comply with government guidelines. So Huawei has reason to be confident.

Besides China, Huawei has another key market, European countries. However, users here are concerned that Huawei phones will soon become obsolete due to not being supported by Google updates. Since then, demand for Huawei phones will decline without braking in some European markets.



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A market analyst said: "This is not the right time to introduce a new OS, which Huawei is trying to test while it has a large market share. The domestic market may be okay but it is The company is still interested in the response from the international market. "

Huawei obviously needs to take countermeasures when the US government is making the situation escalate. Huawei has been preparing for the worst case ever and the arrest of the financial manager Meng Wanzhou (Strong Man) last year prompted the company to rush to prepare for reserve plans and directors. operating Nham Chinh Phi once said this before a group of Chinese journalists in May.

In the immediate future, when the US is pointing at Huawei, the launch of a new OS is crucial. "Huawei has not been able to fully prepare for the release of the new OS because the US ban is too sudden," a source said. Although an alternative to Android, it has been tested thousands of times by Huawei's expert team, but it has never been tested extensively on commercial products. This means Huawei has yet to set a specific timeline to release it.



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