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Two years after launch, Huawei to roll out its Google Android rival to phones — with big challenges – CNBC

GUANGZHOU, China — In mid-2019, Huawei launched its own operating system — HarmonyOS — in response to U.S. actions that minimize it off from Google software program.

It was the Chinese language know-how big’s most bold 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 to obtain it as an replace.

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

In 2019, Huawei was placed on a U.S. blacklist generally known as the Entity Record which restricted American companies from exporting know-how 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 equivalent to Gmail are blocked. However in abroad markets, the place Android is the preferred 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 essential” half to make sure the survival of Huawei’s smartphone enterprise, based on Nicole Peng, analyst at Canalys.

Improvement 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 generally known as the AppGallery and improved navigation capabilities.

A visitor holds her cellphone exhibiting 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 Pictures

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

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

At the moment, 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 thousands and thousands of builders making apps for his or her respective platforms.

Huawei has a collection of apps equivalent to mapping and a browser underneath a banner referred to as Huawei Cell Companies (HMS). HMS is just like Google Cell Companies and gives builders kits that can be utilized to combine issues like location companies into apps. HMS has 2.three million registered builders globally.

And in China, it is ready to deliver on board in style apps.

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

“If Huawei desires to achieve success at promoting telephones abroad, then it wants the best purposes, that are unlikely to reach on HarmonyOS. So gaining access to Google Cell Companies once more is crucial if it desires to construct its worldwide cellphone enterprise,” Bryan Ma, vp of units analysis at IDC, mentioned through electronic mail.

With Google Android and iOS dominating outdoors China, Huawei can even have the steep activity of convincing customers to change.

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

In the meantime, Huawei additionally doubtlessly lacks the important thing provides to make telephones sooner or later because of the 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 yr 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 larger problem in that it’s struggling to get parts within the first place,” Ma mentioned.

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