Huawei says its Hongmeng OS isn’t an Android replacement after all

After a torrid few months, Huawei is now downplaying the idea that its homegrown Hongmeng operating system could serve as a drop-in replacement for Google’s Android on its smartphones. SVP Catherine Chen told reporters in Brussels yesterday that Hongmeng is not designed for smartphones and that Huawei plans to continue using Android, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reports.

This follows similar comments last week from chairman Liang Hua, who said in comments reported by TechNode that “[Huawei hasn’t] decided yet if the Hongmeng OS can be developed as a smartphone operating system in the future.” Liang says the system was designed as a low-latency solution for IoT devices, while Chen describes it as being “for industrial use.”

That’s a shift from Huawei’s previous messaging, which has suggested that the company was prepared to make a switch. “Huawei is in the process of potentially launching a replacement,” communications VP Andrew Williamson told Reuters in June, adding that it’d be ready “in months” in the event of an Android blacklisting. “It’s not something Huawei wants. We’re very happy being part of the Android family, but Hongmeng is being tested, mostly in China.” Consumer division CEO Richard Yu also said earlier this year that Huawei would be ready to use its alternatives.

The point may be moot, of course, if the US’ recent easing of trade restrictions on Huawei turn out to affect the company’s ability to deal with Google. But whatever the outcome there, it’s less clear than ever how ready Huawei would be to go it alone.