A cell phone exhibits Huawei app interface. Huawei unveiled HarmonyOS, its personal working system in 2019. In June 2021, the corporate launched the working system on a smartphone for the primary time.
Costfoto | Barcroft Media | Getty Photographs
GUANGZHOU, China — Huawei on Wednesday launched its self-developed working system throughout a slew of units, together with smartphones. The transfer comes because the Chinese language tech large appears to be like to wean itself off its reliance on U.S. know-how and will pit it towards software program from Apple and Google.
HarmonyOS launched in 2019 after the U.S. blacklisted Huawei, reducing it off from entry to Google’s Android working system. That transfer, together with further sanctions proscribing Huawei’s entry to essential semiconductors, crippled its smartphone business simply months after it became the number one player in the world.
Huawei has been growing HarmonyOS since 2016 and payments it as an working system that may work throughout many internet-connected units from smartphones to wearables. The corporate claims it’s simple for builders to create apps that may work throughout totally different merchandise.
The give attention to HarmonyOS working throughout units is a technique Huawei is making an attempt to distinguish its working system from Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.
“HarmonyOS is designed to supply the glue between a rising array of related units that Huawei is focusing on,” Ben Wooden, chief analyst at CCS Perception, stated.
“Huawei will likely be hoping that it could observe Apple’s lead, by having a single software program platform that extends in all instructions, offering a seamless expertise to clients that purchase into its ecosystem of merchandise.”
In 2019, Huawei put HarmonyOS on a TV made by Honor, a model it had used to personal. On Wednesday, Huawei launched HarmonyOS on a brand new model of its flagship Mate 40 smartphone in addition to its Mate X2 foldable cellphone. Huawei’s new Watch Sequence 3 smartwatch and MatePad Professional pill will even be geared up with HarmonyOS.
Sanctions in 2019 that minimize Huawei off from Google meant customers of the Chinese language firm’s smartphones didn’t obtain Android updates.
Huawei introduced on Wednesday that lots of the firm’s older telephones will be capable of improve to HarmonyOS. These upgrades will start from Wednesday and be steadily rolled out via to subsequent yr.
U.S. sanctions prompted a dramatic slowdown in Huawei’s revenue growth in 2020, hitting the corporate’s smartphone and its networking gear enterprise. Washington has maintained Huawei is a nationwide safety menace claiming data the company collects may very well be shared with the Chinese language authorities. Huawei has repeatedly denied that it would do this.
Huawei has seemed to pivot to software and give attention to different client electronics like wearables and tablets to spice up income. HarmonyOS is a part of that effort together with an rising give attention to cloud computing.
The corporate has stated that just about 100 totally different Huawei merchandise are set to help HarmonyOS in China this yr. Huawei had beforehand stated 300 million units will run on HarmonyOS this yr.
At a web-based occasion on Wednesday, Wang Chenglu, the president of software program in Huawei’s client enterprise group, confirmed examples of how HarmonyOS works throughout units. One instance concerned opening a “management panel” on a smartphone earlier than selecting certainly one of a number of music apps and what system to play songs on.
What allow them to down was the dearth of scale which did not entice builders to the platform to make apps. With out apps, customers could not wish to use the software program.
However Huawei has put a giant give attention to apps and the corporate’s scale and the variety of units HarmonyOS can work throughout might assist draw builders to the platform.
HarmonyOS might “entice the developer ecosystem and enhance the set up base of units actually quick,” Neil Shah, companion at Counterpoint Analysis, instructed CNBC. “Extra builders will see the advantages. There’s not a hen and egg downside.”
Huawei has a set of apps resembling mapping and a browser beneath a model known as Huawei Cellular Companies. HMS is much like Google Cellular Companies and affords builders kits that can be utilized to combine issues like location providers into apps. HMS has 2.7 million registered builders globally.
The Chinese language agency additionally has its personal app retailer known as App Gallery with 540 million month-to-month energetic customers worldwide.
“Huawei has been capable of generate some scale,” Shah stated.
In the meantime, Huawei has opened its working system to third-party system makers, very like Google’s Android. If main residence equipment corporations or system producers resolve to undertake HarmonyOS then that would assist the software program develop even additional, Shah stated.
Whereas HarmonyOS might discover success in Huawei’s residence market of China, it might face challenges in worldwide markets.
Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS dominate the cellular working system market. And on smartwatches, Apple has its WatchOS whereas Google final month launched a revamped version of its Wear operating system. The 2 U.S. know-how giants have additionally been specializing in software program for in-car leisure too.
Each corporations even have an enormous base of app builders and the world’s hottest apps on their platform. That’s one space through which Huawei might battle.
“The one factor (HarmonyOS) nonetheless lacks is the massive marquee western builders,” Shah stated.
Huawei’s app retailer is lacking main names such Google apps, that are vital to customers overseas. Fb in the meantime is obtainable however not for direct obtain from AppGallery.
Shah stated sure continents like Europe and Africa might present a chance for Huawei. Nonetheless, the Chinese language agency will probably must take care of the reputational fallout from U.S. sanctions.
“Huawei faces large challenges outdoors China,” Wooden of CCS Perception stated. “There was a palpable lack of client confidence within the model on account of the US sanctions that will likely be difficult to beat because it pivots into new areas.”