Two years after launch, Huawei to roll out its Google Android rival to phones — with big challenges



GUANGZHOU, China — In mid-2019, Huawei launched its own operating system — HarmonyOS — in response to U.S. actions that lower it off from Google software program.

It was the Chinese language expertise big’s most bold cell software program push, one it hoped would assist its handset enterprise to outlive.


On Monday, Huawei announced that HarmonyOS would begin rolling out on its smartphones from April. Huawei cellphone customers would have the ability to obtain it as an replace.

A spokesperson confirmed to CNBC that customers exterior of China would additionally have the ability to obtain it. The corporate’s new foldable Mate X2 system, launched on Monday, could be one of many first to get HarmonyOS with different handsets to observe.


In 2019, Huawei was placed on a U.S. blacklist generally known as the Entity Listing which restricted American companies from exporting expertise to the Chinese language firm. Google cut ties with Huawei as a result. That meant Huawei couldn’t use licensed Google Android on its smartphones. That is not an enormous deal in China the place Google apps corresponding to Gmail are blocked. However in abroad markets, the place Android is the most well-liked working system, it was an enormous blow.

That transfer by the Trump administration mixed with sanctions designed to cut Huawei off from critical chip supplies, has hurt the Chinese telecommunication firm’s smartphone sales.


Huawei might want to discover a supply of chip provides for its smartphones. However HarmonyOS is the opposite “critically vital” half to make sure the survival of Huawei’s smartphone enterprise, based on Nicole Peng, analyst at Canalys.

Improvement of HarmonyOS

Huawei touts HarmonyOS as an working system that may work throughout gadgets from smartphones to TVs. In September, it launched the second version of HarmonyOS and has been courting builders to make apps for the platform.


And with a view to worldwide customers, Huawei redesigned the interface for its app retailer generally known as the AppGallery and improved navigation capabilities.

A visitor holds her cellphone displaying an image taken throughout Huawei’s press convention unveiling its new HarmonyOS working system in Dongguan, Guangdong province on August 9, 2019.


Fred Dufour | AFP| Getty Pictures

“Search built-in into the AppGallery will assist so much when it comes to serving to individuals uncover apps,” Peng stated.


Additionally, Huawei can be pushing the replace to present customers of its gadgets which ought to assist drive use of the working system abroad.

At the moment, Huawei’s AppGallery has over 530 million month-to-month energetic customers.


Smartphone challenges forward

Apps are important to cell working programs. Apple’s iOS and Google Android are the 2 most dominant working programs as a result of they’ve hundreds of thousands of builders making apps for his or her respective platforms.

Huawei has a collection of apps corresponding to mapping and a browser below a banner referred to as Huawei Cell Providers (HMS). HMS is just like Google Cell Providers and provides builders kits that can be utilized to combine issues like location companies into apps. HMS has 2.3 million registered builders globally.

And in China, it is ready to deliver on board common apps.

Nonetheless, in worldwide markets, Huawei may face some challenges. For instance, its app retailer is lacking main names corresponding to Fb or Google apps, that are vital to customers overseas.

“If Huawei desires to achieve success at promoting telephones abroad, then it wants the suitable functions, that are unlikely to reach on HarmonyOS. So gaining access to Google Cell Providers once more is important if it desires to construct its worldwide cellphone enterprise,” Bryan Ma, vice chairman of gadgets analysis at IDC, stated by way of electronic mail.

With Google Android and iOS dominating exterior China, Huawei may even have the steep process of convincing customers to change.

“When it comes to challenges, it is nonetheless in areas … (whether or not) the product will have the ability to be be accepted by heavy customers utilizing, for instance, Google apps and Google companies,” Canalys’ Peng stated.

In the meantime, Huawei additionally probably lacks the important thing provides to make telephones sooner or later as a result of U.S. shifting to chop it off from chips. Huawei’s Mate X2 makes use of Huawei’s proprietary Kirin 9000 processor. Richard Yu, the CEO of the buyer enterprise, stated the corporate has sufficient manufacturing capability for the foldable cellphone even after warning final yr provides may run out.

That, together with the uncertainty of success with the working system, is an enormous problem Huawei faces.

“Huawei may proceed to drive the native China market with out such considerations (about HarmonyOS apps), however there’s a a lot larger subject in that it’s struggling to get elements within the first place,” Ma stated.

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