With the United States going ahead with its decision to impose sanctions on Chinese mobile manufacturers Huawei, the company has launched its HarmonyOS operating system to fight Google for supremacy over the Android platform.
Last month, in what was a huge blow to Huawei’s 5G equipment and mobile phones, Donald Trump’s government announced to ban the sales of any and all chips using US technology to the Shenzhen-based multinational technology company.
“We don’t want their equipment in the United States because they spy on us,” President Donald Trump told Fox News on Monday. “And any country that uses it, we’re not going to do anything in terms of sharing intelligence.”
The sanctions also imply the expiry of Huawei’s license with Google, meaning its mobile phones have lost official access to Google services like the Play Store.
The company is now forced to fall back on its own operating system, a challenge taken on by the company, with Huawei Rotating Chairman Guo Ping saying that despite the huge loss of Google, his company will fight to succeed in the long term.
“HMS must have a ‘Foolish Old Man Moving Mountain Spirit’. No matter how high the mountain is, dig an inch or less, persist and fight for a long time, we will definitely succeed.” said Guo.
In May, Huawei was added to the growing, now-infamous Entity List by the United States Chamber of Commerce, under which it will not be able to partner with any American firm, without explicit government permission, however, a temporary exemption was also provided for existing relations to ensure a smoother transition away between the companies and its existing customers.
Existing mobile devices like the Huawei P30 have access to Google services under the exemption currently, but upcoming devices like the P40 will have to utilize the HarmonyOS.
With the expiry of Google, Huawei is likely to lose access to Google’s Android updates and security patches, meaning HMS will have to ensure that itself-developed HarmonyOS, which was launched last year, garners full support to overcome the loss of the Play Store and other features or face the huge risk of losing users.
With the US sanctions ensuring that Huawei loses all access to American hardware and software, HMS faces an uphill task to build an attractive, competitive ecosystem that can survive against the likes of the Play Store, especially considering the failure of Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
Moreover, despite HMS developing in-house chipsets through its chip arm Hisilicon to ward off the loss of American chips, even their most modern devices like the P40 will be well short of being attractive enough to international customers if they don’t have access to the same apps that are on the iOS and Android devices using Google’s services.
According to figures provided by Huawei, during a recent update, in the first half of 2020, over 1.6 million global developers have supported their efforts, a staggering 76 percent increase from the 910,000 figure of 2019. This has resulted in the creation of over 81,000 apps aimed for customers in Western markets using HMS APIs.
“It’s not an easy decision for us, as a smartphone company, to develop our own ecosystem Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). It’s very difficult and very challenging. But we delivered a better-than-expected one-year transcript,” said Guo.
“If Huawei could help Android in achieving success, is there any reason why our own system cannot be a success?”
Despite having to come up against Google at the back of enjoying a prosperous relationship with it before the expiration of their collaboration, Guo feels that his HarmonyOS can coexist with Google.
“It is plausible to have two systems in a world. And Huawei will be able to survive and take the lead even in an extremely hostile environment,” said Guo.
Currently, Huawei has an array of devices ranging from Smart TVs to vehicles, which are equipped with HarmonyOS, with the operating system for smartphones expected to be launched in the next few months.