Aug 9, 2019

Huawei unveils Harmony, its homegrown operating system

Huawei unveils its HarmonyOS at a developer conference on Friday. Photo: FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

Amid uncertainty over its longterm access to Google's Android, Huawei on Friday detailed HarmonyOS, the operating system it has developed in-house over the past 2 years.

Why it matters: Huawei, which has been targeted by U.S. trade restrictions and security concerns, needs a Plan B if it loses access to Google's operating system and services. But it also faces an uphill battle in getting other key tech companies to adopt it.

Huawei detailed the operating system at a developer conference, with device business CEO Richard Yu describing it as distinct from Android and iOS in the way it is architected and well suited to running across a variety of devices.

  • Indeed, Huawei said Harmony will show up first not on phones, but on other kinds of devices. Huawei hopes to continue using Android on phones, it said.

Between the lines: It's clear Huawei sees this as a long-term bet rather than a short-term fix for its supply chain issues. The plan is to have Harmony running on a display later this year and over the next 3 years on speakers, watches and in-car systems.

Our thought bubble: Huawei says it will release the operating system as open source software and aim to get a wide range of developers in and out of China to build apps. But this will clearly be a big hurdle.

  • Samsung had similar hopes with Tizen, but has struggled to get a wide range of developers for that OS, which it uses on watches and other devices.

Go deeper: How Huawei is weathering U.S. sanctions

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Report: Huawei employees helped African governments spy on opponents

A member of Huawei's reception staff enters a building used for high profile customer visits in Shenzhen, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Huawei employees have helped African governments spy on political opponents in at least 2 instances not disclosed to the public, the Wall Street Journal reports.

What they found: In 2018, Huawei engineers working in Uganda used spyware developed by an Israeli company to infiltrate opposition leader Bobi Wine's WhatsApp, reportedly at the request of a Ugandan cyber-surveillance unit. In Zambia, Huawei technicians "helped the government access the phones and Facebook pages of a team of opposition bloggers running a pro-opposition news site," WSJ reports.

Go deeperArrowAug 14, 2019

Tariffs threaten to reshape tech industry

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Even as businesses continue to protest the growing U.S.-China trade war, the tariffs are already causing companies in both countries to rethink how and where they do business.

Why it matters: For all their differences, the U.S. and Chinese tech industries remain very interdependent — each country contributes a great deal of business to the other's economy.

Go deeperArrowAug 29, 2019

Ex-FCC head: Huawei fears obscure broader threats to 5G security

Photo illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

There's important work to be done in securing 5G, the next generation of wireless service, former Federal Communications Commission chair Tom Wheeler told Axios. And not all of it stems from China's most controversial telecommunications equipment company.

What they're saying: "All the attention that’s being paid to Huawei, all of the furor, all of the upheaval, has masked the broader issue of the new set of threats that 5G presents," Wheeler said.

Go deeperArrowSep 5, 2019