What just happened? Huawei's plan B to continue thriving in the smartphone business is to build a homemade solution for its Android woes. Google severing ties with the Chinese manufacturer has lead it to ramp up efforts for an alternative Android-based OS called Hongmeng, for which it has recently filed a trademark on WIPO and reportedly put on 1 million devices for testing.
Huawei's latest patent request in the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Global Brand Database reveals that the company has been hard at work behind the scenes to come up with its own version of Android. The company plans to launch Hongmeng-powered smartphones next year but some reports indicate it might be as soon as October this year.
The CEO of Huawei's consumer division, Richard Yu, told CNBC last month that the company is still committed to Microsoft Windows and Google Android, "But if we cannot use that, Huawei will prepare the plan B to use our own OS."
Developing a mobile OS for the global smartphone market and breaking the duopoly of Apple's iOS and Android is a daunting task. Samsung gave it a try with Tizen and Microsoft's mobile efforts with Windows didn't workout either, so it's no surprise that Huawei has been busy with its own solution that's been under development going as far back as 2012.
While its partnership with Google in the Android space meant there was no imminent threat of a third operating system, the recent severance of business ties between the two has caused the Chinese company to accelerate efforts with Hongmeng, its backup plan for if or when things go south.
Chinese publication Global Times reports that Hongmeng was developed in collaboration with Tencent and according to Vivo, Xiaomi and Oppo, all Chinese smartphone vendors who tested the new OS, found it to be 60% faster than Google's Android.
Huawei's request for the trademark appears to be filled for several countries including Australia, Canada, Cambodia, the European Union, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand. The company also plans to use Hongmeng OS for tablets and PCs, as revealed in its trademark description that was approved by the Chinese National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) last month.
If Huawei can pull off Hongmeng's launch and support it well going into the future, it will put the company in a similar business model as Apple, where it'll have even stronger vertical integration across its products than Cupertino considering that Huawei also makes most if not all of its hardware at home. It's even got a microSD card alternative that's already on the market.
Whether it can topple Google's massively popular software and services or achieve the same success as Apple has with its tightly integrated ecosystem remains to be seen, but it sure looks like a third big player in the smartphone OS world is on the horizon.