If you're a Huawei phone user and have been looking forward to HongMeng, an operating system supposedly slated to replace Android on its phones in the event of a complete U.S. ban, we've got some disappointing news.
According to a July 12 Forbes report, Liang Hua, the electronics giant's chairman, was quoted saying they have not even decided if HongMeng "can be developed as a smartphone operating system in the future".
Statement sits at odds with earlier announcements in May
Liang's statement is of course confusing and shocking, given that in earlier in May, Huawei's Consumer Business CEO, Richard Yu Chengdong, cheerily said the new operating system will be “available in the fall of this year and at the latest, next spring”.
He also claimed that HongMeng will be compatible with all Android and web applications, even going as far as to say "if the Android app is recompiled, running performance is improved by more than 60 per cent".
But echoes another announcement made in July
That being said, Liang appears to at least be aligned with Huawei's CEO, Ren Zhengfei, who told French media Le Point on July 5, that HongMeng was neither designed for phones, nor with the intention of replacing Google.
Ren added that should Google withdraw its OS from Huawei, it will be necessary to build an ecosystem for the OS.
As per Forbes' translation:
"HongMeng is not designed for phones as everyone thinks. We didn't develop the OS to replace Google — and if Google does withdraw its OS from Huawei, we will need to start building an ecosystem because we don't have a clear plan yet."
That hasn't stopped Huawei from reaching out to the developer community, however, with offers to help them reach more than 350 million Huawei devices and 270 million active monthly AppGallery users.
This entails providing the developers with full support to publish their app in App Gallery, as well as "an invitation to join our 560k developer' community for free, in our Huawei Developer portal".
Why the change in tone?
Liang's comments come after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed a partial blacklist reprieve for Huawei and its U.S. supply chain on July 9, Forbes further reported.
This entails the U.S. Department of Commerce continuing to issue licenses in instances where there is no threat to national security.
Ross added, however, that Huawei still remains on its Entity list and that "the announcement does not change the scope of items requiring licenses from the commerce department, nor the presumption of denial".
Reprieve was the outcome of a meeting Xi Jinping and Donald Trump at G20
The reprieve was the outcome of a meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Osaka in June.
In a series of tweets about the meeting, Trump said he had agreed to allow Huawei to buy American products "at the request of our (American) High Tech companies."
....amounts of agricultural product from our great Farmers. At the request of our High Tech companies, and President Xi, I agreed to allow Chinese company Huawei to buy product from them which will not impact our National Security. Importantly, we have opened up negotiations...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 29, 2019
The Financial Times (FT) reported that Ren subsequently acknowledged Trump's statement, but downplayed its significance by stating that the company would continue to do its job.
"President Trump’s statements are good for American companies. Huawei is also willing to continue to buy products from American companies. But we don’t see much impact on what we are currently doing. We will still focus on doing our own job right."
What Huawei previously said about HongMeng:
Top image via Huawei Smartphones Facebook page