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 reduce it off from Google software program.

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

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 firm’s new foldable Mate X2 system, launched on Monday, can be one of many first to get HarmonyOS with different handsets to comply with.

In 2019, Huawei was placed on a U.S. blacklist referred to as the Entity List which restricted American companies from exporting expertise to the Chinese firm. Google cut ties with Huawei as a result. That meant Huawei couldn’t use licensed Google Android on its smartphones. That’s not a big deal in China the place Google apps comparable to Gmail are blocked. But in abroad markets, the place Android is the preferred working system, it was a big 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 will want to discover a supply of chip provides for its smartphones. But HarmonyOS is the opposite “critically important” half to make sure the survival of Huawei’s smartphone enterprise, in accordance to Nicole Peng, analyst at Canalys.

Development 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 referred to as the AppGallery and improved navigation features.

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 Images

“Search integrated into the AppGallery will help a lot in terms of helping people discover apps,” Peng mentioned.

Also, Huawei might be pushing the replace to current customers of its gadgets which ought to assist drive use of the working system abroad.

Currently, Huawei’s AppGallery has over 530 million month-to-month lively customers.

Smartphone challenges forward

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

Huawei has a set of apps comparable to mapping and a browser beneath a banner known as Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). HMS is comparable to Google Mobile Services and affords builders kits that can be utilized to combine issues like location providers into apps. HMS has 2.3 million registered builders globally.

And in China, it’s in a position to convey on board in style apps.

However, in worldwide markets, Huawei might face some challenges. For instance, its app retailer is lacking main names comparable to Facebook or Google apps, that are vital to customers overseas.

“If Huawei wants to be successful at selling phones overseas, then it needs the right applications, which are unlikely to arrive on HarmonyOS. So getting access to Google Mobile Services again is critical if it wants to build its international phone business,” Bryan Ma, vp of gadgets analysis at IDC, mentioned by way of electronic mail.

With Google Android and iOS dominating exterior China, Huawei will even have the steep activity of convincing customers to swap.

“In terms of challenges, it’s still in areas … (whether) the product will be able to be be accepted by heavy users using, for example, Google apps and Google services,” Canalys’ Peng mentioned.

Meanwhile, Huawei additionally probably lacks the important thing provides to make phones sooner or later due to the U.S. shifting to reduce 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, mentioned the corporate has sufficient manufacturing capability for the foldable cellphone even after warning final 12 months provides might run out.

That, alongside with the uncertainty of success with the working system, is a big problem Huawei faces.

“Huawei could continue to drive the local China market without such concerns (about HarmonyOS apps), but there is a much bigger issue in that it is struggling to get components in the first place,” Ma mentioned.

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