Dongguan (China) (AFP)
The Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, threatened to lose its access to Android because of US sanctions, Friday unveiled a new operating system that should equip its mobile phones and "bring more harmony to the world."
The system, dubbed "HarmonyOS", was introduced by executive director Richard Yu at a group developers' conference in Dongguan, southern China. It is intended to equip the different types of brand appliances within the same "ecosystem".
"We want to bring more harmony and convenience to the world," said Yu, while Huawei is blacklisted by the United States, who suspect him of spying for Beijing.
Huawei, world number two in smartphones, was trapped in May, by the twists and turns of the trade war between Beijing and Washington against a background of technological rivalry.
Considered the leader in 5G technology, he was blacklisted by the Trump administration, suspected of providing backdoors to Chinese intelligence services, which the group denies.
As a result, American companies are theoretically no longer allowed to sell technology products to them. A three-month exemption period - which ends next week - has been granted by Washington.
The ban also concerns Google and the supply of its Android system, which equips the vast majority of smartphones in the world, including those of Huawei.
The group has always publicly defended itself from wanting to replace Android on its phones with a home operating system but claims to be constrained by US sanctions. Richard Yu assured that Huawei could if need be without Android.
"If we can not use it anymore, we'll be able to play all our apps on HarmonyOS," he said.
- "Completely different" -
Developing an operating system with the entire ecosystem that accompanies it, so as to attract users and developers, is complex.
In addition to Google's Android, the only other popular operating system is Apple's iOS, available exclusively on the iPhone.
The firm in Shenzhen (South China) has been working since 2012 on its own operating system, initially designed for the Internet of Things.
HarmonyOS "is completely different from Android and iOS," said Yu. Google is also working on its own versatile operating system project, "but it's not yet in the stage of realization". he observed.
In 2010, Microsoft had tried to launch a mobile version of its famous Windows but had managed to offer it on its own phones. As for the Tizen "free of rights" system, developed by Samsung, it remains confidential.
But without access to the full version of Android, the popular services of Google, not to mention the many applications available on the Google Play store, Huawei may have trouble convincing consumers outside China to choose its phones.
Yu said that HarmonyOS will be installed on the smart screens that will be launched before the end of the year. It will then be extended to other devices (smart watches, smart speakers, automotive systems ...), in China first and then in the rest of the world.
The system will be open to all in "open source". "We want to build a global operating system that will not be used solely by Huawei," Yu said.
Meanwhile, Huawei remains at the heart of the Sino-American discord.
China on Thursday denounced the rules announced the day before by the United States banning the group and other Chinese companies from US government procurement, accusing Washington of "abuse of power."
Huawei was founded in the 1980s by a former Chinese army engineer, Ren Zhengfei. His own daughter, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested last year in Canada, at the request of the United States, who suspects her of violating an embargo against Iran while she was Huawei's chief financial officer. .
Ms. Meng is still awaiting extradition to Canada.
Without these "outside elements", Huawei could have become the world's number one mobile phone company this year, Yu said.
The group remains number two, ahead of Apple but behind the South Korean Samsung.
© 2019 AFP