Despite pressure from the US government appearing to ease in rhetoric if not impact, Huawei is pushing forward with plans on the Android alternative.
Beleaguered mobile phone and telecom equipment manufacturer Huawei filed an application to trademark the name “Harmony” with the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) on July 12, described in the filing as a “downloadable operating system programs; mobile operating systems,” as first reported by Duch publication LetsGoDigital.
Harmony is the apparent English name for the company’s Android alternative—heretofore known as HongMeng—which Huawei has been quietly developing since 2012 as a contingency for “worst-case scenarios.” Previously, a trademark was filed for “Ark OS,” which may be another candidate. It’s unclear if one or the other is intended for PCs, or if Harmony will be usable on both computers and phones.
SEE: Launching a career in cybersecurity: An insider’s guide (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
Huawei’s present bout of troubles started on April 16, following President Trump’s executive order restricting US mobile network operators from using technology from “foreign adversaries” that are deemed to pose “unacceptable risks” to national security, which prompted the Commerce Department to add the company to a blacklist preventing American companies from working with it and its affiliates.
Due to this blacklisting, companies—including Google—have ceased cooperation with Huawei, preventing the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer from shipping Google Play Services (the proprietary parts of Android not released as open source software) not provided as part of the open-source version of Android. While this does not strongly impact Huawei inside China, as Google Play Services is not provided there due to a dispute with the Chinese government, reliance of Android apps distributed outside of China on APIs provided by Play Services complicates Huawei’s already embattled attempts to sell phones globally.
Huawei (and ZTE) have been under intense scrutiny since 2012, following the release of a House Intelligence Committee report which concludes that “the risks associated with Huawei’s and ZTE’s provision of equipment to U.S. critical infrastructure could undermine core U.S. national-security interests,” accusing the pair of being complicit to Chinese government espionage activities. This claim was repeated in 2013 by former NSA chief Gen. Michael Hayden, who at the time was a board member of Motorola Solutions, a competitor which paid a settlement to Huawei in an IP dispute.
In April 2019, Bloomberg’s report of a “smoking gun” of such activities, hinges on an exposed Telnet interface that was discovered by a third-party contractor hired by Vodafone Italia, though this vulnerability bears a striking similarity to vulnerabilities in Cisco and D-Link routers.
For more, check out “Huawei’s “plan B” smartphone OS: What it needs to succeed” and “FedEx suing Department of Commerce over burden of enforcing Huawei blacklisting” on TechRepublic.