Huawei Technologies took the wraps off its “HarmonyOS” operating system, offering the first glimpses of in-house software that may someday replace Google’s Android and reduce its reliance on American technology.
To begin with, the open-source software will skip smartphones and instead find its way into everything from cars and watches to personal computers by 2020, Richard Yu, chief executive of the consumer business said during a launch event.
Earbuds and virtual reality goggles will follow. Huawei is considering running the OS on its upcoming flagship Mate 30, he told reporters.
“Because we support Google’s Android ecosystem, we will prioritise Android for smartphones. If we can’t use Android, we can install HarmonyOS quickly,” Yu said at Huawei’s developers conference in Dongguan. “We had a great chance to become the world’s biggest vendor by shipment — if not for the trade war.”
HarmonyOS, previously code-named “Hongmeng” or “Ark,” is an important part of Huawei’s effort to develop alternatives in response to sanctions on American technology it needs to make its gear.
Underscoring the unpredictability of supply, Bloomberg News reported the White House is delaying a decision about licenses for US companies to resume selling to Huawei.
China’s largest technology company has found itself at the center of sensitive trade negotiations between Beijing and Washington, with the latter accusing its geopolitical rival of stealing technology and posing a risk to US national security.
Irrespective of how the talks play out, Trump administrative curbs have all but smothered Huawei’s goal of overtaking Samsung Electronics Co to become the world’s largest maker of smartphones.
While Huawei’s operating system may serve it well in its domestic market, any plans to dethrone Google’s Android globally will be misplaced, according to Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint Research.
“Huawei with deep pockets and scale in China can pull this off in the domestic market, but to reach Google Android level service integration and app quality outside China is going to be
less trivial and a mammoth task,” he said.