Mexico City — An executive of China’s Huawei, which has been banned from working with US tech firms, said on Thursday that the telecoms giant is in the process of potentially launching its “Hongmeng” operating system (OS) to replace the US Android OS.
Andrew Williamson, vice-president of Huawei Technologies’ public affairs and communications, said in an interview that the company will “presumably” trademark Hongmeng.
President Donald Trump’s administration in May put Huawei on a blacklist that barred it from doing business with US tech companies such as Alphabet, whose Android OS is used in Huawei’s phones.
“Huawei is in the process of potentially launching a replacement,” Williamson said in Mexico City. “It’s not something Huawei wants. We’re very happy of being part of the Android family, but Hongmeng is being tested, mostly in China.”
“Presumably we’ll be trying to put trademarks,” he added.
Williamson said he expected 2019 revenue growth would be almost flat at about 20%, compared with 2018’s expansion of 19.5%. Huawei said in March its three main business groups were likely to post double-digit growth in 2019.
Williamson said that if trade tensions escalate into a full-blown trade war, Hongmeng would be ready to go “in months”.
Data from the UN World Intellectual Property Organization shows that Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecoms network gear, has already applied to trademark Hongmeng in a number of countries.
Williamson said chipmakers knew that cutting off Huawei could have catastrophic consequences for their business.
“We’re not specifically asking anyone to lobby for us. They’re doing it by their own desire because, for many of them, Huawei is one of their major customers,” he said.
Huawei has come under mounting scrutiny for over a year, led by US allegations that “back doors” in its routers, switches and other gear could allow China to spy on US communications.
The company has denied its products pose a security threat.