back to article Can't do it the US way? Then we'll do it Huawei – and roll our own mobile operating system

Huawei is building its own proprietary operating system platform in case the United States tries to isolate the manufacturer by cutting off access to Windows, Android, and other American-built software ecosystems. The admission came in an interview with Huawei’s mobile chief Richard Yu with German newspaper Die Welt. Yu said …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Politics and business as usual then. It's never a good mix as too many pockets get greased, too many "leaders" get b***hurt and make decisions based on feelings instead of logic. Wars have even been started on this type of stuff by those in power. Only in a fictional world will every one ever get along and work for the common good instead of personal gain. I'm not an idealist or communist but some feuds between governments just seem way out of proportion and rather bizarre at times.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      But this is a very big issue because it is one of the things that determines whether the US will be able to maintain its ability to dominate the rest of the world.

      Wars are caused by the people in power in one country wanting to maintain their position. They don't even care about what happens to their own country if conquest or power projection increases their power elsewhere. Blair's invasion of Iraq led to big rewards from the US after he left Parliament - he's supposed to be worth about £60 million these days, which he didn't do on his salary.

      If the feuds between governments seem irrational, you're not seeing the levers.

      The levers here, as the article points out, are that Huawei is now technically ahead of Cisco and 20% cheaper. The US IT stack includes Cisco, Intel, Qualcomm, Apple, and other companies. In the long term Huawei with its vertical integration threatens every single one of them. What's more, it doesn't buy the services of US politicians. China used to help American businessmen to get immensely rich even if lots of Americans lost their jobs. Now it seems to prefer Chinese businessmen getting rich. The threat is very real.

      While most of the developed world's phones use Intel or Qualcomm technology, the US effectively has a lot of leverage. If China starts offering products with no US IP, that's almost a declaration of war. It's saying "we can reduce your market power across the developed world."

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Open source

    "It could, of course, use Linux or one of the BSDs or other open-source kernels, "

    Or Android.....

    1. Paul Herber

      Re: Open source

      They could call it Chinese Program/Mobiles or CP/M.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Open source

        They could be superstitious, and avoid it, given its fate...

        1. Paul Herber

          Re: Open source

          Someone has downvoted me for some reason, either they don't know about CP/M or they are a fan of ISIS (Intel's OS for the 8080/86 families).

          :F1:

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Open source

        >They could call it Chinese Program/Mobiles or CP/M.

        Bet it doesn't use 8-inch floppies...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Open source

          "Bet it doesn't use 8-inch floppies..."

          Nah, too big for a phone, won't fit in a pocket. But it might be thin enough to satisfy the current fad.

          1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

            Re: Open source

            But, but, floppies are foldable albeit slightly harder to read afterward.

    2. Lloydy lloyd

      Re: Open source

      Exactly I was wondering why they would be scared of losing access to android when its open source. Sure they would not get the Google play store but Google can't stop them from using android. Wouldn't that just go against the whole reason for open source.

  3. thames

    I suspect its a clone of Android

    For phones I suspect that Huawei have simply taken the open source bits of Android and replaced the proprietary Google bits with their own or third party stuff. If they stick to maintaining close compatibility with Android then the app problem will be a lot more manageable.

    Samsung's Tizen didn't maintain compatibility and so hasn't really gone anywhere. It's still Samsung's back up plan though in case they get into a dispute with Google.

    Huawei have their own server OS, called EulerOS. It's based on CentOS. The choice for this again is likely to maintain compatibility with existing business applications.

    It is clear though that for the US this is primarily commercial and economic. They've overplayed the "national security" card with so many countries so far though that nobody except those who desperately want to just believe it's true take them seriously about it any more.

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: I suspect its a clone of Android

      I agree it would be difficult to gain traction for a new OS if it wasn't compatible with existing apps, just ask Microsoft. So no doubt it will be based on a version of Android without the Gapps and probably a custom home screen launcher which is similar to what a lot of Chinese phones come with.

    2. A.P. Veening

      Re: I suspect its a clone of Android

      "They've overplayed the "national security" card with so many countries so far though that nobody except those who desperately want to just believe it's true take them seriously about it any more."

      Even worse, the things the Chinese are accused of (backdoors) have been found in American stuff, so whatever else is going on, the Americans already have a couple of strikes against themselves (and a load of hypocrisy).

      1. VikiAi Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Dirty minds

        I think it can largely be taken as read that anything the US (or any of the 5-eyes for that matter) is accusing others of, they only thought of because they are already doing it themselves!

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Dirty minds

          "I think it can largely be taken as read that anything the US (or any of the 5-eyes for that matter) is accusing others of, they only thought of because they are already doing it themselves!"

          Of all the 5-eyes, only the US seem to be having a problem with and are accusing Huawei. Threats to reduce intelligence sharing are not likely to have any effect, since the US seem to rather reluctant to share their intelligence on Huawei. The other 5-eyes are not being given this vital information and after investigating, don't seem to be able to find it for themselves. The obvious conclusion is that the US are not sharing or don't actually have the proof. Either option is pretty damning.

    3. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Tizen Re: I suspect its a clone of Android

      Samsung's Tizen didn't maintain compatibility and so hasn't really gone anywhere.

      If both Samsung and Huawei started pushing Tizen, it could become the new standard with surprising speed! between them these companies are responsible for about third of the mobile phone sales.

    4. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: I suspect its a clone of Android

      > [ Tizen is ] still Samsung's back up plan though in case they get into a dispute with Google.

      It's one of Samsung's back up plans, as well as being an option for Samsung in their Internet of Things. Another back up plan for Samsung is the Android Open Source Project but without the proprietary Google bits, hence their insistence on shipping phones with their own app store, however, email client etc duplicating the Google equivilents.

    5. Sanguma

      Re: I suspect its a clone of Android

      "It is clear though that for the US this is primarily commercial and economic. They've overplayed the "national security" card with so many countries so far though that nobody except those who desperately want to just believe it's true take them seriously about it any more."

      There's this little story in Aesop's Fables about a shepherd boy who shouted out "Wolf", a little too often. If he'd shouted out "Chihuahua", he might still be alive ...

    6. Jaybus

      Re: I suspect its a clone of Android

      The "national security" card may be overplayed for economic reasons, but that doesn't make it a non-issue. The arrest of a Huawei employee in Poland for spying, the arrest of the CFO in Canada on fraud allegations, equipment banned in several countries, the US attempting to extradite the CFO on similar fraud charges, ... It would seem the US is waiting in queue to get at Huawei, so conspiracy theories regarding the framing of Huawei by the US government notwithstanding, I remain unconvinced of Huawei's innocence.

      1. thames

        Re: I suspect its a clone of Android

        @Jaybus: The arrest of Meng in Canada was due to an extradition request by the US made just before the start of US-China trade negotiations. Trump has said that if he gets a good enough trade deal out of China he will consider dropping the charges against her. Canada itself has no complaint against her and would very much prefer not to have been dragged into the affair at all. One of the issues that has already been raised in the extradition hearing process is what is seen as the obvious political nature of the charges given what the US has already said about it.

        I'm not sure that citing this case is exactly helping your argument.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Jaybus - Re: I suspect its a clone of Android

        Do you know how easy it is to arrest someone for spying ? Especially in some Western countries where the authorities do not want to disclose the proof for national security reasons of course.

  4. LateAgain

    Just pick one of the open source phones

    Offer hardware to any of the open phone projects and watch them run.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Just pick one of the open source phones

      Again, that only gets you to base camp. The Open Source community would have a harder time writing apps for proprietary services such as banking, Uber, etc that many consumers would expect.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Just pick one of the open source phones

        "The Open Source community would have a harder time writing apps for proprietary services such as banking, Uber, etc that many consumers would expect."

        A Huawei or a combined Huawei/Sumsung OS would represent so much of the new phone market that the proprietary services would provide their own apps.

  5. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Burning question

    Will this mean we get to choose which government(s) & corporations get to spy on everything we do?

    1. Angry clown

      @Wellyboot - Re: Burning question

      You can bet on that!

  6. Geoff (inMelbourne)

    "For phones I suspect that Huawei have simply taken the open source bits of Android and replaced the proprietary Google bits with their own or third party stuff. If they stick to maintaining close compatibility with Android then the app problem will be a lot more manageable."

    YES PLEASE!

    Android without the Google data harvesting, using the excellent Huawei hardware.

    I'll even *consider* lining up to buy one of those.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      You already can, lineagos and fdroid

    2. LDS Silver badge

      I'm not sure it won't have some kind of data harvesting anyway. All software written now looks to be obsessed with data harvesting.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        I'm just imagining a dev looking puzzled having been told not to put data harvesting in.

  7. Angry clown

    Memo to Huawei

    Make it plan A. Just in case.

  8. Sanguma

    Minor suggestion, Huawei

    Huawei could provide itself an alternative to Microsoft Windows by "buying" into the ReactOS project and getting some of its software engineers to speed its development.That'd give it a Win32/64 API and NT kernel API alternative not under the control of Redmond thus not under the possible control of Washington DC.

  9. _LC_
    Linux

    Question being:

    Could it be any more inefficient and bogus (continuously vulnerable, just utter out ‘media-framework’ aloud) than Android?

    If it wasn’t for that ton of Apps... Android spyware itself can be considered a pile a crap. Some sort of capability to run Android apps would suffice (as Sailfish-OS does).

  10. aqk
    Big Brother

    Another operating system?

    I've had a Huawei phone (well, a couple) for 5+ years and they always seemed to have their own OS. Is this just a cosmetic front-end to Android?

    And what's the difference? I assume that Android, as a Linux clone, is open?

    1. _LC_

      Re: Another operating system?

      Android is running atop of Linux.

  11. aqk
    Facepalm

    We need the Mozilla / Firefox phone!

    Now! More than ever!

    Why did Shuttleworth bail out so soon?

    1. _LC_

      Re: We need the Mozilla / Firefox phone!

      That JavaScript crap managed to be far worse than Android.

  12. pwl

    they already use a lot of linux

    Most of Huawei’s telco gear is already based on SUSE Linux - now a completely European company...

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