Our expectations about the Huawei’s Harmony OS has coming to smartphones in 2021 might already be long overdue but the Chinese tech giant has taken the step forward to make things happen and follow its own direction.
Earlier today, we reported about the company planning to release its smartwatch and its tablet today and among the keynote is the HarmonyOS which is expected to start rolling out to some selected smartphones. Users will have the chance to switch from Android to the new operating system when they receive their update.
The move by Huawei is its swift response to move away from relying on Google’s Android OS after the company got sanctioned by the US government back in 2019 – halting its operation and business relationships with US-based companies like Google.
The difference between Android and the HarmonyOS is that the latter is being marketed by Huawei as an IoT platform which can work on different connected devices such as laptops, smartwatches, cars and home appliances.
This is a great way for Huawei to build its own ecosystem therefore shifting the market from the duopoly state it’s currently in.
Aside the HarmonyOS, the Chinese company also unveiled a number of products which will support the operating system and these includes the new smartwatch, a stylus pen and a tablet device all which were unpacked during its live video event at its home headquarters in Shenzhen.
After the end of the event, the company also teased the much awaited P50 smartphone. The device was expected to have been released way back but due to different issues with supply and production, the debut has been postponed many times.
The company’s chief of Consumer Business Group Richard Yu said “for reasons that everyone is aware of,” the device’s release was delayed.
The company is reportedly aiming to port its new HarmonyOS on nearly 200 million smartphones as well as 100 million third-party smart devices by the end of the year according to the president of Huawei Consumer Business Groups Wang Chenglu who is said to have led the development of the HarmonyOS since 2016.
Wang spoke at a media roundtable a day earlier and his comments were embargoed until Wednesday. News about Huawei planning on making its own replacement operating system for Android was first reported on Brumpost back in 2018 and then the biggest change came in May 2019 when the company got blacklisted over security reasons by the US government.
With the ban it suffered from the US government, Huawei was put at the mercy of its own proprietary operating system which has been argued a number of times to being a forked version of Android 10 basically due to its resemblance and behaviors with its EMUI based on the Android operating system.
Huawei suffered a drastic drop on the smartphone market after the ban with the company easily ousted by the more consistent Xiaomi, its local rival and now its on the sixth position on the global market share with just 4% of the market share in the first quarter of the year 2021.
The continuous delay in the release of its flagship smartphone, the P50 series also adds up to the company losing out on the market.
The company is looking into providing upgrades for some components like batteries for users with older phones, Yu said.
With the HarmonyOS, Huawei is reportedly looking beyond just smartphones as its aiming to create a connected network of smart appliances that can communicate with one another using the cross-platform operating system therefore establishing its own dominance as a major IoT device manufacturer.
Wang said it’s important to create a system that bridge the gaps between devices – “The problem with existing operating systems is that devices can’t be connected easily,” with users often having to download separate apps to get things to connect, Wang said.
“But Harmony can enable devices to be connected to form a super device. It will work as one file system, literally one device,” Wang said.
Wang also said the company would welcome other third-party manufacturers porting their devices to the HarmonyOS even though there were reports that some big Chinese brands such as Oppo and Vivo might be joining the HarmonyOS for their Chinese market while their international devices will use Android OS – basically due to the over-reliance on Google by people outside of China.
Huawei has also spent millions to further strengthen its own App store called he App Gallery and created its own SDK for the HarmonyOS. The company aims to further collaborate with other third-party manufacturers and app developers in other to realize its dream of globalizing its new operating system.
Will Wong, an analyst at IDC, said it was not essential for Huawei that other smartphone makers adopt HarmonyOS. “(But) for Huawei to achieve its ambition, it will be important to get other electronics brands and even automakers onboard for the OS, and China provides a favourable market ecosystem to achieve this,” said Wong.
The success of the HarmonyOS in China may be guaranteed but its success outside the country might be under serious contemplation considering the circumstances that led to the company being banned by the US government in the first place. With that said, the company also teased its P50 series after its keynote which hints a possible sooner release of the device as speculations mount about the release.