Huawei launches its own operating system: HongmengOS, or HarmonyOS

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A Huawei logo displayed at a retail store in Beijing.

Fred Dufour | AFP | Getty Images

DONGGUAN, China — Huawei has launched its own operating system — the HongmengOS, known in English as the HarmonyOS, said the CEO of the Chinese tech giant’s consumer division, Richard Yu, on Friday.

Speaking at the Huawei Developer Conference in the Chinese city of Dongguan, Yu said the operating system can be used across different devices from smartphones to smart speakers and even sensors. It’s part of Huawei’s play in the so-called Internet of Things, which refers to devices connected to the internet.

HarmonyOS will first be used on “smart screen products,” such as televisions, later this year. Over the next three years, the operating system will be used in other devices, including wearables and car head units.

Huawei said the OS will initially launch in China with plans to expand it globally.

The United States placed Huawei on a blacklist — or the so-called Entity List — in May, which essentially restricts some U.S. companies from selling their products to the Chinese tech giant.

Following that move, Google said it suspended business activity with Huawei. But days later, the U.S. government eased some of those restrictions, and allowed Google to work with Huawei for 90 days. That timeline is almost up.

At the G-20 summit in Osaka in June, President Donald Trump said he would allow American companies to sell products to Huawei where national security is not compromised. But the exact details remain unclear.

The Chinese telecom equipment maker acknowledged publicly that it had its own operating system in the works. Yu told CNBC in May that the company’s own OS could be ready for smartphones and laptops by the end of the year in China, and by mid year in 2020 for international markets.

At the time, Yu stressed that the OS would only be used for smartphones and laptops if Huawei could not get access to Google’s Android or Microsoft’s Windows operating systems.

Google’s services are effectively blocked in China. So Huawei uses a modified version of Android in its domestic market that is stripped of Google apps. That means not having access to Google in China isn’t that a big problem for China. However, if Huawei were to get banned from being able to use Android internationally, analysts said this could hurt the Chines firm’s smartphone business abroad.

Yu reiterated that Huawei would prefer to use Android on its smartphones, but if it had to migrate to HarmonyOS, that would not be difficult. He said moving to the new OS would only take one or two days and it is “very convenient.”

“If we cannot use it (Android) in the future, we can immediately switch to HarmonyOS,” Yu said.

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