Hongmeng OS is for industrial uses, not smartphones, Huawei exec says

Huawei building
Huawei says the Hongmeng OS is for industrial use, not smartphones, but details haven't been revealed. (Huawei)

Huawei’s new Hongmeng operating system is intended for industrial uses, not for smartphones, according to a statement by the company’s Senior Vice President Catherine Chen.

For months, some experts and media had seen Hongmeng as a contender to Android OS. But Chen said the company intends to continue using the Android OS for its smartphones. Chen made the remarks July 18 at a media roundtable in Brussels, according to the Xinhuanet  news outlet.

Hongmeng was recently trademarked for industrial uses and was in development long before the company began discussions of finding an alternative to Android, Chen said.

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Hongmeng also has fewer lines of code than what a smartphone would require, she said, making it more secure. It has hundreds of thousands of lines of code, instead of dozens of millions of lines of code that a smartphone might need.

The significance of Hongmeng as an industrial OS should interest the entire global industrial IoT ecosystem for manufacturing, autonomic vehicles and more. However, analysts said it is far too early to judge where Hongmeng would be used or applied. There is also the question of whether U.S. companies would be banned from using Hongmeng under a U.S. blacklisting of Huawei products.

Huawei‘s focus on creating its own OS comes as the government of China is working to create a computing and industrial ecosystem relying on manufacturers within its own boundaries under the heading of "Made in China 2025." Huawei has also been blacklisted for trade by the U.S., which creates even more urgency for Huawei to become more self-reliant on software that works on its own industrial-focused chips and communications gear.

News outlets jumped on the question of whether Hongmeng really is just for industrial uses. At least three Huawei executives have made recent comments saying it is not a smartphone alternative to Android.

An April interview caused confusion when Huawei’s consumer business group executive Richard Yu said Huawei had created its own OS for smartphones and later revealed the date for release. Yu had made his comments to note that Huawei was ready to have its own OS for smartphones in the event the U.S. government restricted Huawei’s use of American-made Android or Windows.

On July 12, company chairman Liang Hua said, “We  haven’t  decided yet if HongMeng can be developed as a smartphone operating system in the future.” His comments have more recently transformed by other Huawei executives, including Chen most recently, into the  assertion that HongMeng is an industrial-focused OS. 

The future of Hongmeng and the global trade politics surrounding it will be a continuing story.

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