Huawei announced the launch of its HarmonyOS product for smartphones on Wednesday as a company on a military expedition appears to be recovering from U.S. sanctions that have disrupted its handset business.
Using HarmonyOS means the company is no longer completely dependent on Android. The US alphabet forbade the alphabet Google providing technical support for new Huawei phone models and access to the Google Mobile Services suite, the suite of developer services on which most Android applications are based.
Instead of being comparable, Huawei is billing HarmonyOS as an Internet of Things platform designed to use and connect other devices such as laptops, smartwatches, cars and devices.
Huawei aims to have HarmonyOS available on 200 million smartphones and 100 million third-party smart devices by the end of the year, said Wang Chenglu, president of software at Huawei Consumer Business Group, who has led Huawei’s efforts to develop HarmonyOS since 2016.
Wang spoke the day before in media roundtable discussions, and his comments were banned until Wednesday.
China’s leading manufacturer of telecommunications equipment was blacklisted in the United States in May 2019 for national security reasons. Huawei has repeatedly denied it is a risk.
The ban put tremendous pressure on the Huawei mobile phone business. Formerly the world’s largest smartphone maker, Huawei is now ranked sixth in the world with a 4 percent market share in the first quarter.
But Wang said the company is looking for more smartphones with HarmonyOS. He said the smartphone market had leveled off and that smartphones are still the dominant device in people’s lives largely because most developers have a few other platforms to develop.
Instead, a system was needed to close the gap between devices, Wang said.
“The problem with current operating systems is that devices can’t be connected easily,” and users often have to download separate applications to get things connected, Wang said.
“But Harmony can allow devices to be combined to form a supercar. It works as a single file system, literally as a single device,” Wang said.
Wang said he welcomed other smartphone manufacturers to introduce HarmonyOS, but added that Huawei sees great opportunities to work with non-smartphone manufacturers.
IDC analyst Will Wong said Huawei did not need other smartphone manufacturers to deploy HarmonyOS.
“(But) Huawei is achieving its ambition, so it’s important to get other electronics brands and even automakers involved in the operating system, and China will provide a favorable market ecosystem to achieve this,” Wong said.
© Thomson Reuters 2021