An executive of China's Huawei, which has been banned from working with US tech firms, said on Thursday that the telecoms giant is in the process of potentially launching its "Hongmeng" operating system (OS) to replace the US Android OS.
Andrew Williamson, vice president of Huawei Technologies' public affairs and communications, said in an interview that the company will "presumably" trademark Hongmeng, which he said has likely been rolled out to a million devices in China.
President Donald Trump's administration last month put Huawei on a blacklist that barred it from doing business with US tech companies such as Alphabet, whose Android OS is used in Huawei's phones.
"Huawei is in the process of potentially launching a replacement," Williamson said in Mexico City. "It's not something Huawei wants. We're very happy of being part of the Android family, but Hongmeng is being tested, mostly in China. I believe it is already being rolled out over a million devices."
"Presumably we'll be trying to put trademarks," he added.
Williamson said he expected 2019 revenue growth would be almost flat at around 20%, compared with last year's expansion of 19.5%. Huawei said in March its three main business groups were likely to post double-digit growth this year.
Williamson said that if trade tensions escalate into a full-blown trade war, Hongmeng would be ready to go "in months."
Data from the UN World Intellectual Property Organization shows that Huawei, the world's biggest maker of telecoms network gear, has already applied to trademark Hongmeng in a number of countries.
Williamson said chipmakers knew that cutting off Huawei could have "catastrophic" consequences for their business.
"We're not specifically asking anyone to lobby for us. They're doing it by their own desire because, for many of them, Huawei is one of their major customers," he said.
Huawei has come under mounting scrutiny for over a year, led by US allegations that "back doors" in its routers, switches and other gear could allow China to spy on US communications.
The company has denied its products pose a security threat.
© Thomson Reuters 2019