One year ago, Huawei introduced its operating system called HarmonyOS. But at that time it was only limited to IoT devices. Yesterday at their annual developer conference Huawei announced the second version of its Harmony OS which is to be made for smartphones. Huawei mentioned that a Huawei smartphone running Harmony OS will be launched next year. Huawei will make a beta version of the HarmonyOS2.0 SDK available to developers today, but for the time being it will only support smartwatches, cars, and TVs. SDK of HarmonyOS for smartphones is coming in December this year and a smartphone running this operating system will be available for consumers sometime next year.
Harmony OS – An Open Source project
The good thing about this operating system is that it has cross-platform functionality which means developers don’t have to make different apps for TVs or Smartwatches, they only need to create one which will work across different platforms. Also just like Android, HarmonyOS will be an open-source project. Huawei also shared its HMS app ecosystem has now reached 96,000 apps and is supported by 1.8 million developers. Pretty good so far.
No company has succeeded in building an operating system to compete with Android and iOS. In November 2010, Microsoft introduced Windows Phone to compete with Android and iOS. It died. Samsung created Tizen, hoping to eventually replace Android and lessen its dependence on Google. Now it’s mostly only used on smartwatches. Countless others have come and gone. Symbian, Firefox OS, Windows Phone Os, and WebOS have failed to gain much traction. Even Google itself is experimenting with an OS called Fuschia that will ostensibly bring Android and Chrome OS together. So far, nothing has materialized there, either. Part of the reason this is so difficult because of third-party software.
Harmony OS as an opportunity
Any smartphone that can not use Instagram, or any smart TV that can’t play Netflix, won’t be as useful to customers as a device that can. On the other side, developers don’t want to create applications for smartphones that clients don’t purchase. But the story is different from Huawei. Currently, Google isn’t allowed to carry its exclusive app store and services to China. This presents a problem for Western developers who can’t break into the Chinese market and it gives Huawei an opportunity.
The domestic China market is big enough that if Huawei can get some users on board, through work with domestic developers, maybe that offers enough incentive for Western firms to want to try to develop for their platform. Huawei already commands the biggest share of the Chinese smartphone market, they sold 240 million smartphones last year out of which almost 200 million are from China alone and all of that with absolutely zero support from Google. so it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine the company could leverage its power to bring developers on board and create a global rival that can stand up to Google and Apple. It may not be as successful in the west since there won’t be any Google apps in it but China alone is enough to make it a viable third contender.
But then again Huawei has an even bigger problem at hand right now. They are banned from making Kirin chips and they can’t ask for other chips from different chip-making companies either because they all use US technology. So by the time people start using HarmonyOS, Huawei will be out of chips to make new phones. So they need to figure this out before thinking about rivaling Google and Apple on the operating system front. Anyway, let me know what you think about this down in the comments.
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