Huawei was recently placed on the US Entity List, which resulted in Google being ordered to revoke the company’s Android licence.
Shortly afterwards, the United States issued a temporary licence to Huawei which granted the company a 90-day reprieve to adjust to the terms of the new restrictions.
Speaking to Chinese media this week, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said the company was prepared to take on the United States and would not be too adversely affected by the revocation of its Android licence.
“90 days doesn’t mean much to us, and we have prepared,” Ren said. “What the US will do is out of our control. I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the US companies that we work with.”
Ren said that Huawei has prepared “spare tyres” or “Plan Bs” for its core products, as it always knew it would have to take on the United States at some point.
In terms of the licence revocation and its effect on users, Ren said the company was in talks with Google to solve the problem.
When asked about European Huawei owners potentially losing access to Android in future, he said there was no clear answer at the moment.
“Google is a good company – a highly responsible company. They are also trying to persuade the US government to solve this problem,” Ren said.
“We’re now discussing viable solutions for this, and our experts are still working on this. So I can’t give you a detailed answer today.”
He acknowledged there will be some impact to Huawei’s operations due to the loss of its Android licence, however, he added that European governments would not follow in the footsteps of the United States.
5G atomic bomb
Huawei’s 5G products and infrastructure are extremely strong, added Ren, easily outpacing competitors across the world. Ren implied that this competition was a contributing factor towards the United States’ campaign against Huawei.
He said the United States saw 5G as a threat similar to an “atomic bomb”, when it would actually be a benefit to society.
“I’m not a mind reader, so I don’t know exactly what [US] politicians are thinking. I think we should not be the target of US-led campaigns just because we are ahead of the US,” Ren said.
“5G is not an atomic bomb; it’s something that benefits society.”
“The US has taken administrative measures against Huawei because it could not seize the strategic high ground,” Ren said.
When it comes to serving customers after it no longer has access to its Android licence, Ren said the company has a Plan B for all of its core services.
“Business continuity is all about our Plan B, or our “spare tyre” plan. Spare tyres ensure that when cars break down, they can continue running after tyres are replaced,” he said.
“We have ensured our business continuity step by step. In fact, many parts we use in our products have been put into production. Despite this, we are open to parts from outside the company.”
At the beginning of 2019, Ren predicted that the US would take action against Huawei regardless of the result of their ongoing lawsuit at the time.
“We thought we would have two years to make preparations. But when Meng Wanzhou was arrested, it sparked everything off,” he said.
He said Huawei will certainly be able to continue serving customers, adding that there will not be an impact on the company’s production.
Growth may slow down, he said, but not by as much as everyone is imagining.
Strengthening Huawei’s position is that it has been working on its own operating system for a while now, and many speculate that this will be its “Plan B” for smartphones – in case it loses access to Android.
Details regarding this operating system have been sparse, but a source speaking to HuaweiCentral stated that the name of the new software is “Hongmeng”.
The report said Hongmeng has been in development since 2012 and has been secretly built for this very situation.
More recently, HuaweiCentral reported that Hongmeng would be compatible with all Android applications, including Google’s apps.
According to this report, Huawei CBG CEO Richard Yu confirmed that the company’s self-developed operating system would run Android apps.
If Hongmeng proves to be a pre-built Plan B, it could reduce the impact of the Android licence revocation and place Huawei in a more favourable position – as it will be less prone to interference by the US government.