back to article China's going to make a mobile OS and everyone will love it, predict ball-gazing analysts

Huawei earlier this year denied reports that it's developing its own mobile OS to lessen its dependence on US giants like Google. The South China Morning Post had reported that Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei blessed the doomsday project, to be activated in case of a "worst-case scenario". The Alibaba-owned paper said Huawei has …

  1. rmason

    What could go wrong?

    Eh?

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-10-04/the-big-hack-how-china-used-a-tiny-chip-to-infiltrate-america-s-top-companies

    (in the interests of balance - Yes we are all "at it", but most countries don't have near-monopolies on various types of hardware. Lets not add the OS too!)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What could go wrong?

      but most countries don't have near-monopolies on various types of hardware. Lets not add the OS too!

      I don't think there would be. Any Chinese OS is going to have to offer something truly exceptional to see adoption in the US or Europe. The Chinese government can certainly force the locals to adopt it, but where's the USP for people with choice? Android is already "free", I certainly expect any Chinese product to have privacy and security concerns (similar to Android, I suppose in that respect), and in terms of OS maturity and capability, where's the market demand for something new? In developed markets it'd die the same death as all the other me-too smartphone OSs. Judging by the adaptations of my Xiaomi Android, I've no doubts that China can produce good software, but that alone is nowhere near enough to displace Android or IoS.

      There is one killer capability still to be offered, and that is a full week's battery life for a moderate to heavy user, but given what's already been delivered by more energy efficient hardware, that's in the hands of the battery chemists and physicists not OS or hardware designers.

    2. moonrakin

      Re: What could go wrong?

      Bloomberg have been a bit coy about exposing the detail of this "grain of rice".

      RegFolk - can we assume that a full write-up will follow shortly?

      I wonder if anybody at EE is getting a bit squeakybum about all the bargain network hardware they got from Huawei?

      Trojan++

    3. JohnFen

      Re: What could go wrong?

      "Yes we are all "at it", but most countries don't have near-monopolies on various types of hardware. Lets not add the OS too!"

      I am far more concerned about corporate spying than governmental spying. On that count, Android and Windows are already hopelessly compromised. I can't see how China could make the situation any worse than it already is.

    4. I&I

      Re: What could go wrong?

      From that Bloomberg article: You end up with a classic Satan’s bargain,” one former U.S. official says. “You can have less supply than you want and guarantee it’s secure, or you can have the supply you need, but there will be risk. Every organization has accepted the second proposition.”

      1. I&I

        Re: What could go wrong?

        Another “devil’s bargain” being complexity (hence functionality) vs verifiability.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: What could go wrong?

        You can have less supply than you want and guarantee it’s secure

        Such a guarantee is only valid when supply reaches zero.

        A guarantee of security in a general sense is nonsense; it is either ignorance or fraud. It's possible to make certain specific guarantees regarding certain classes of attack under certain threat models with certain assumptions and qualifications. That's the best anyone can do.

        And having an adequate supply is itself a security benefit. The trade-off here is not between "supply" and "security"; it's between two aspects of security.

    5. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: What could go wrong?

      as I see it, if you don't trust Google with your privacy information, would you trust something invented in China?

  2. andy 103
    Joke

    Facebook will position itself as a provider of government digital services

    Well, they do seem to have a shared goal of "get every bit of data on every single person in society and use it for questionable purposes", so yeah why not.

    Facebook like money. The Government like pissing it away on "IT projects". Facebook are good at storing/processing huge volumes of data. The Government have no idea what data is never mind how to process and store it. Nobody really trusts either.

    Seems like a match made in heaven!

    1. MrXavia
      Big Brother

      Re: Facebook will position itself as a provider of government digital services

      Who would you trust more to provide a mobile OS,

      Apple, Google, the PRC or Facebook?

      Which one will use the mined data for the least evil purpose?

      It is a tough call I think...

      1. fishman

        Re: Facebook will position itself as a provider of government digital services

        "Which one will use the mined data for the least evil purpose?"

        Governments can throw people in jail and/or confiscate all of their belongings, so the PRC is potentially the most evil.

        But companies that mine the data can have the results taken by the government and then used for evil purposes.

        1. JohnFen

          Re: Facebook will position itself as a provider of government digital services

          "But companies that mine the data can have the results taken by the government and then used for evil purposes."

          And large corporations can and do hire private armies to kill, throw people in jail, and confiscate their stuff. In more "civilized" parts of the world, they have the government do it for them. The idea that corporations are less dangerous and powerful than governments is demonstrably false.

          The primary difference between the two is that, at least in democracies, you have some amount of effective say in how the government operates. You have almost no effective say in how corporations operate.

      2. D@v3

        Re: who would you trust...

        If I'm being honest

        Apple, as it stands, they don't "seem" to have much interest in mined data, (or maybe i have just been successfully brainwashed)

        Then, surprisingly, Google. We all know they are at it, but their main goal "seems" to be to make money and 'improve' their 'services'.

        And actually, then PRC, as they are at least keen on 'improving' their country, even if it means shitting on the proles in the process.

        But Facebook? Nah, they can take a long walk off a tall building.

      3. Teiwaz

        Re: Facebook will position itself as a provider of government digital services

        Apple, Google, the PRC or Facebook?

        That's like being given the choice of the red or the red, the mauve* or the puce pill

        None of the above.

        * never heard of Mauve alert?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Facebook will position itself as a provider of government digital services

          Sure, Facebook have already introduced user 'Trust' scoring.

          And

          Here 1984 meets Blakes7. So what could possibly go wrong:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Credit_System

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Big Brother

            Re: Facebook will position itself as a provider of government digital services

            yeah, a phone OS that *ASSISTS* in managing that 'Social Credit' system - no surprise here!

      4. JohnFen

        Re: Facebook will position itself as a provider of government digital services

        "Apple, Google, the PRC or Facebook?"

        From that list, Apple. The other three are all about equally untrustworthy.

  3. Crisp

    Everyone will love it

    Or else.

  4. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    A fork of Android really isn't competition. It's just a fork of Android.

    Only when it actually has its own replacements for Google Apps - search, Play Store and so on - does it become a competitor.

    Amazon has got part of the way with the Kindle Fire but doesn't seem to have rolled this into phones. Or if they have, they were so world-shakingly successful that they seem to have left an indelible blank on my mind...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Or if they have, they were so world-shakingly successful that they seem to have left an indelible blank on my mind...

      That's the case. Search Wiki Amazon Fire phone

      1. Caff

        curation

        Amazon's phone problem is the same as with amazon prime movies, their app store is full of crud. Its impossible to find anything decent in it. Amazon's store is becoming the same, unless you already know what you are looking for you have to trawl through tons of clones and other crap.

    2. Crisp

      Only when it actually has its own replacements for Google Apps

      I'm sure everyone will be having a good Jinwang about it anyway.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Only when it actually has its own replacements for Google Apps

        > A fork of Android really isn't competition. It's just a fork of Android.

        An Android fork is competiton to Google, which is the actual point of the EU's study. It's not just Google maps, Gmail and the Play Store which are Google's, there are also a lot of Google proprietary APIs in the version of Android which ships on most phones in the West.

      2. Waseem Alkurdi

        Re: Only when it actually has its own replacements for Google Apps

        Jinwang

        Ah, that. I wonder what's there to prevent PRC from mandating that it ships in /system/app for all phones destined for sale in Xingjiang (Uighur Central).

        But ... yep, we've already seen how shitty the security was (aka non-present) in data transfer from the app.

        Or how it had poor obfuscation/no anti-tamper/ ...

  5. onefang

    Is it just me, or are the talking about future things using past tense? Are they time travelers?

  6. msknight Silver badge

    "always-interesting" - no kidding

    I think they're predictions are off the mark, particularly about the autonomous driving issue.

    Plus China has an interest in Sailfish... and if anyone could port apps to a new platform in double quick time, it's the Chinese - https://www.androidheadlines.com/2017/02/jolla-signs-exclusive-license-sailfish-os-china.html

  7. NukEvil

    "...predict ball-gazing analysts"

    Whose balls are they gazing at?

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Re: "ball-gazing analysts"

      I don't say I wanted to know, but I wondered.

    2. Waseem Alkurdi
      Joke

      Re: "...predict ball-gazing analysts"

      ball-gazing

      Football/soccer/$LOCAL_BALL_SPORT balls. They are sitting in front of a telly watching a match and somebody said, "Wanna make a quick buck anybody?"

      1. Daniel von Asmuth
        Holmes

        Re: "...predict ball-gazing analysts"

        It's only natural that the Middel Kingdom (and we don't mean Middle Earth) should endeavour a mobile OS after trying their hands on alternatives for Windows and Linux.

        La doona è mobile - Woman is fickle

        [Verdi]

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: "...predict ball-gazing analysts"

      Whose balls are they gazing at?

      Crystal's? But she only has metaphorical balls.

    4. onefang

      Re: "...predict ball-gazing analysts"

      "Whose balls are they gazing at?"

      Their own, it's like navel gazing, only deeper.

  8. Norman Nescio

    Russia already has an alternative phone OS

    Russia has licenced Jolla's Sailfish OS for domestic use.

    TechCrunch: Jolla’s Sailfish OS now certified as Russian government’s first ‘Android alternative’

    And, although Jolla Oy is a Finnish Limited Company, I believe Rostelecom are what Jolla delicately call a 'strategic investor'. More details here: [Jolla Blog] Rostelecom is new strategic investor.

    After the investment, Rostelecom is the largest individual shareholder in the investment company Sailfish Holding Ltd. (Hong Kong) but does not own majority in Jolla Ltd. (Finland). The development of Sailfish OS has always been an international project and the company has an international shareholder base. The Sailfish family includes significant shareholders e.g. from China, and developing the company’s regional licensing strategy requires international ownership.

    I don't think it has exactly taken Russia by storm, but it appears at least one phone is (or has been) available: the INOI R7.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Russia already has an alternative phone OS

      "I don't think it has exactly taken Russia by storm, but it appears at least one phone is (or has been) available: the INOI R7."

      That's so low spec that if it runs Sailfish acceptably, that's quite an advert for the OS.

      On the other hand it has a headphone jack...unless that's the GRU programming socket.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi

        Re: Russia already has an alternative phone OS

        Hardly surprising. The Russian government showed an interest in ReactOS [the free-open-source Windows clone] sometime ago:

        https://www.reactos.org/project-news/reactos-second-os-russian-governments-software-freedom-effort/

        That's logical thinking, the reasoning being the scenario that the US weaponizes Windows + Android against them.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Russia already has an alternative phone OS

          With respect to ReactOS [and other open source alternatives]: As long as the OS and core applications remain 100% open source, the Russians, Chinese, and even the N. Koreans and Iranians can go ahead and contribute whatever they want to it. I might even help them!

          It wouldn't be anti-American to assist with the success of ReactOS and other open source alternatives to Windows and Android. It would be anti-MONOPOLY (and thereby, pro FREEDOM) to do so.

          A 'No Slurp' 100% open source alternative. Looking forward to it! well, hoping...

  9. jonha
    Happy

    "Who would you trust more to provide a mobile OS,

    Apple, Google, the PRC or Facebook?"

    All of them... provided they will release it as open source, every bit of it.

    I (am trying to) buy kit where I can replace the OS with an open source alternative and this works already pretty well for desktops/laptops, mobile phones/tablets and routers. I still have a dumb TV, none of my MP3 players and digital cameras has Wifi connectivity, and there's no Alexa et al.

    1. Waseem Alkurdi

      @jonha

      Let me finish that mission for you.

      dumb TV

      Try something like MythTV or XBMC. Both are Linux-based and of course are runnable off a RPi or an x86 netbook + HDMI (to be really thorough, use Coreboot/Libreboot for the firmware and open-source GPU and Wi-Fi drivers).

      MP3 player

      Good. But if you want an upgrade or video playback capabilities, try an old Android phone with a custom ROM and the RIL and Wi-Fi ripped the hell out.

      Or a Galaxy Player (a Galaxy S without the calling functionality)

      digital camera

      A DSLR, I assume?

      1. DropBear

        "Try something like MythTV or XBMC"

        One word: LibreELEC.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      All of them... provided they will release it as open source, every bit of it.

      So you will be trusting none of them then, since this isn't going to happen.

  10. Simon Rockman
  11. Tigra 07

    The biggest issue wouldn't be creating a new OS (Just fork Android), the big problem comes from having a duopoly with established userbases and stores.

    Will people switch to a new OS without the most popular apps? Evidently no, or Microsoft would have fared better than they did.

    1. JohnFen

      "Evidently no, or Microsoft would have fared better than they did"

      There are many more reasons than a lack of apps for Microsoft's failure in this space.

      1. Tigra 07
        Linux

        RE: JohnFen

        "There are many more reasons than a lack of apps for Microsoft's failure in this space"

        Like what?

        Lack of updates? Also an Android issue in many respects, so that's unfair.

        Advertising budget? Not an issue.

        Likeability? No, people liked the products as the reviews note.

        Choice? No, there were a few different phones a year, certainly more than from Apple.

        1. JohnFen

          Re: RE: JohnFen

          The lack of apps was the major issue, but not the only one.

          In addition to that, I would say that likeability/usability was indeed a big problem -- these devices were not exactly received well by the general public (what reviewers think means nothing), and that boiled down to the OS not really being up to snuff. Yes, there were a number of people who loved these things, but that number was not large enough to support the product line. It wasn't even large enough to entice developers to write apps for it -- which brings up another problem with them, that developing apps was a significant enough pain in the butt that there needed to be a very strong economic incentive to do it, and that incentive was simply not there.

  12. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    But you'll be relieved to hear that "smart clothing remains a highly niche product category serving specific segments such as professional sports". Nobody wants to talk to their trousers.

    Dabbsy, here's one for you :)

    1. Shadow Systems

      At Anonymous South African Coward, re: talking to pants.

      More specificly, I don't want my pants talking back to me. I'm in enough trouble already with my shirts, I don't need to catch hell from my trousers too! =-)p

      1. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: @ Shadow Systems

        Um, knowing YOU, WHAT pants?

        1. Shadow Systems

          Re: @ Shadow Systems

          Oh, I have pants, I just refuse to let them out of their cages. Once bitten twice shy. =-Jp

        2. Tigra 07
          Thumb Up

          Re: @ Shadow Systems

          I'd let the car industry fill my clothes with tech before Google. Just imagine having collision detection for your underpants and parking sensors for your arse. AND DON'T GET ME STARTED ON THE POSSIBILITIES WITH AIRBAGS!

  13. JimmyPage
    Big Brother

    "Government approved" OSs ?

    This discussion does drift into the idea of governments mandating OSs to use, and throwing those that don't into the big house.

    Would be frightening easy to achieve a stready stream of "paedophiles ... blah blah ... nothing to hide ... blah blah ... muslimic terrorists ... blah blah" and your own Mum would be turning you in. After all, the average user wouldn't have a clue and is quite happy with Windows/Android/iOS.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: "Government approved" OSs ?

      China can force locals to use the approved OS. But the OS probably would not fair well in other countries where the locals might actually block its use.

    2. Waseem Alkurdi
      Joke

      Re: "Government approved" OSs ?

      @JimmyPage

      So what you're proposing is that we let pedophiles, muslimic [sic] terrorists hide their stuff?

      Wait a sec, how do I know that you haven't got something to hide?

      You're definitely a risk to national security. Poof, and offstage you go, to Guantanamo Bay or something equally democratic.

      All hail Big Brother! Down with {Eur,East}asia!

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: "Government approved" OSs ?

        "So what you're proposing is that we let pedophiles, muslimic [sic] terrorists hide their stuff?"

        Unfortunately, too many people DO think this way. 'Joke Alert' indeed. Point well made.

        I have a good name for a 'Government Approved' OS: We'll call it 'Brownshirt'. It will include [for every entry in your 'friends' list, the new name for the phone number list] a 'report' button that you can easily use to turn your friends/neighbors/family in for non-approved actions/speech/thinking/whatever. Then the entries will automatically be deleted once the secret police haul them away...

  14. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    And you thought Google was bad?

    The main reason for developing a new OS is to be able to monitor everyone.

    1. Waseem Alkurdi

      Re: And you thought Google was bad?

      Or, if you're not a government, rake in more $$$.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And you thought Google was bad?

      What's the difference between Google and China?

      From here:

      https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/17/17344250/google-x-selfish-ledger-video-data-privacy

      ________

      To here:

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-30/google-and-mastercard-cut-a-secret-ad-deal-to-track-retail-sales

      ________

      To Utopia:

      https://neweconomics.org/2018/07/whats-your-score

    3. JohnFen

      Re: And you thought Google was bad?

      So, the exact same main reason that Google bought Android, then?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google free AOSP Android

    Most Chinese phones and a growing number in Russia and India are non AOSP Android. I saw a stat yesterday that claimed Google free AOSP Android had a world market share of 27% - almost double the share of iOS, and growing at a nice clip.

    And now it looks like Microsoft might introduce their own AOSP Android fork for the west eventually, and while I'm sure they won't compete with iOS market share, when you combine it with other AOSP based forks Google may be in danger of having their software in a minority of Android phones within a few years.

    So what does Huawei need with their own OS, exactly?

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