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US ban may push Huawei to use Russian Avrora OS

Chinese technology giant Huawei will start talks with officials at Russia’s communications ministry this summer on the possibility of using Russia’s Avrova (Aurora) operating system, the RIA news agency cited a Russian deputy communications minister as saying.

The US government directed American tech companies to stop trade with Huawei in May fearing breach of sensitive user information, such as location data, and that Chinese technologies could pose a possible threat to critical American infrastructure. Huawei has repeatedly denied it is controlled by the Chinese government, military or intelligence services.

The Chinese telecom major on Thursday predicted it might lose billions of dollars, $30 billion to be precise, over the next two years. CEO Ren Zhengfei said Huawei’s overseas cellphone sales will drop by 40%.

The most notable aftermath of this sanction was Google withdrawing Android OS support from Huawei smartphones.

The Android license allows Huawei and its subsidiary Honor to use Google’s Play Store, Play Protect (the in-built malware scanner on Google Play), Security Updates and more on its phones. Losing it means future Huawei phones will not have these apps, along with others like Google Maps, YouTube and more.

The US government did give some respite to Huawei phone users, giving Google a temporary reprieve of 90 days. This basically meant Google would be able to provide key Android security updates during the 90-day time frame, but future Huawei phones will still lack Google’s apps.

It’s been about 30 days since the sanction was imposed. Huawei and Honor have both said that their flagship and sub-flagship smartphones would continue to receive Android updates and would even get the Android Q OS that’ll roll out at the end of this year.

But it is clear that Huawei would like to put an end to the operating system monopoly of Google to avoid being reliant on American companies to run one of its largest businesses.

Huawei immediately started considering other OS platforms after the US ban. It started developing its own Hongmeng OS. Some media outlets claim Hongmeng OS could be released in China in either August or September 2019 with a worldwide release in the second quarter of 2020.

A Reuters report quoted Andrew Williamson, vice president of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s public affairs and communications, saying the company will “presumably” trademark Hongmeng.

“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.”

At this point, it is not clear how Huawei will use an in-house as well as an outsourced operating system in its upcoming smartphones.


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