Tuesday, 01 May 2018 06:41

Huawei developing own operating systems 'for a rainy day'

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Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies has been working on its own operating systems since the US Congress published an investigation into the company in 2012, accusing it of spying.

The South China Morning Post  reported that the company had an operating system that could be used instead of Windows on tablets and personal computers.

It also had a separate operating system for smartphones, the newspaper reported, citing four people who it claimed were familiar with the company's plans.

The report said the plan to develop operating systems was initiated by the company's founder, Ren Zhengfei, and it was seen as a strategic investment to prepare for "worst-case scenarios", the sources said.

Contacted for comment, a Huawei spokesperson said: "Huawei has no plans to release its own OS in the foreseeable future. We focus on products powered by Android OS."

The SCMP quoted Zhao Ming, the president of Honor, a smartphone brand that is part of Huawei, as saying during the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing on Thursday: “It is a matter of capacity and necessity. There is no doubt that Huawei is capable of doing it, but for now I don’t think it is necessary since we work very closely with Google and will continue to use its Android system.”

Huawei has come under a great deal of pressure in the US, with the most recent action by the US being a probe by the Justice Department as to whether the firm has violated US sanctions on Iran.

Last month, the US Department of Commerce slapped a seven-year ban on another big Chinese telco equipment maker, ZTE, claiming that the company had made false statements during talks in 2016 over a charge of shipping telco equipment to Iran and North Korea. Prior to that, ZTE had paid a fine of US$890 million after admitting that it violated a law that controls export of sensitive goods by shipping US telecom equipment to Iran.

As a penalty, US firms cannot sell parts to ZTE for seven years.

Also last month, iTWire reported that Huawei and ZTE would not receive any subsidies from the Universal Service Fund that the US uses to subsidise equipment bought by rural and small carriers, and Huawei is reportedly cutting back US sales efforts as a result.

The US began its efforts to force Huawei out of local contracts after the 2012 Congressional report alleged the company was a threat to national security, with a warning that Beijing could use its equipment for state-sponsored spying or cyber attacks.

In December, President Donald Trump signed a bill to ban Huawei and ZTE equipment from nuclear weapons systems in the US Defence Department. Earlier this year, Trump banned a takeover of US processor maker Qualcomm by Singapore-based Broadcom because of national security concerns; Huawei's ties to Broadcom were mentioned as a concern.

Last year, multinational electronics corporation Best Buy said it would no longer stock the company's smartphones.

This came after AT&T cancelled a deal to start selling Huawei smartphones on its plans and Verizon took the company's devices off its shelves.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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