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Two years after launch, Huawei to roll out its Google Android rival to telephones — with large 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 large’s most formidable 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 be capable of obtain it as an replace.

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

In 2019, Huawei was placed on a U.S. blacklist often known as the Entity Checklist which restricted American corporations 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 similar 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.

Growth of HarmonyOS

Huawei touts HarmonyOS as an working system that may work throughout units 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 often 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 Photos

“Search built-in into the AppGallery will assist rather a lot by way of serving to individuals uncover apps,” Peng mentioned.

Additionally, Huawei will likely be pushing the replace to current customers of its units which ought to assist drive use of the working system abroad.

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

Smartphone challenges forward

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

Huawei has a collection of apps similar to mapping and a browser below a banner referred to as Huawei Cellular Providers (HMS). HMS is much like Google Cellular Providers and gives 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 is ready to convey on board well-liked apps.

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

“If Huawei needs to achieve success at promoting telephones abroad, then it wants the appropriate functions, that are unlikely to reach on HarmonyOS. So having access to Google Cellular Providers once more is essential if it needs to construct its worldwide cellphone enterprise,” Bryan Ma, vice chairman of units analysis at IDC, mentioned by way of e mail.

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

“By way of challenges, it is nonetheless in areas … (whether or not) the product will be capable of be be accepted by heavy customers utilizing, for instance, Google apps and Google providers,” Canalys’ Peng mentioned.

In the meantime, Huawei additionally doubtlessly lacks the important thing provides to make telephones sooner or later as a result of U.S. transferring 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 patron enterprise, mentioned the corporate has sufficient manufacturing capability for the foldable cellphone even after warning final 12 months 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 issues (about HarmonyOS apps), however there’s a a lot greater subject in that it’s struggling to get parts within the first place,” Ma mentioned.


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