Following the Google ban, Huawei opened HarmonyOS to third-party smartphone makers.

Richard Yu, CEO of the Consumer Division at Huawei, presents as a keynote speaker at the Huawei Developer Conference on September 10, 2020. Huawei launched the second version of its HarmonyOS operating system.


Guangzhou, China – Huawei on Thursday launched a second version of its own operating system, pushing it for third-party device makers as it looks to make Google a viable alternative to Android.

Last year, Huawei unveiled HarmonyOS, its own cross-device operating system. This came after the company was listed on the US entity list, a blacklist that banned some US companies from selling their products to Chinese tech giants.

Google suspended commercial activity with Huawei, forcing it to release the flagship smartphone without a licensed version of the American company’s Android operating system. This is not a big deal in China where Google services such as Gmail or Search are blocked. But, this is important in Huawei’s international markets where consumers are used to using such an app.

While Huawei became the number one smartphone manufacturer in the world in the second quarter, much of it thanks to the Chinese market with its large population, international markets saw a sharp decline.

The latest move is designed to increase the number of developers on board by increasing the amount of users of HarmonyOS. Ultimately, a strong developer and user base will benefit Huawei if it eventually uses HarmonyOS on its smartphone, something many have not yet done.

Harmony 2.0

Huawei uses HarmonyOS as a mobile operating system that can operate on many different devices. Developers only need to create a version of the app that ports across multiple pieces of hardware, the company claims.

On Thursday, Huawei launched HarmonyOS 2.0 and said that a beta version of the operating system will be open to developers from September 10 for devices such as smartwatches, TVs and in-car head units, and for smartphones in December.

From those dates, developers will be able to use and develop the app for HarmonyOS.

“We will probably see smartphones with HarmonyOS starting next year,” Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer division, said during a keynote speech Thursday.

Huawei’s own smartphones do not yet use HarmonyOS.

Brian Ma, vice president of devices research at IDC, said device manufacturers may be willing to put hormones as a “fallback option” when they face similar restrictions on using Google. But they do not necessarily work with Huawei.

“On the other hand, they would think twice about working with a staunch opponent who has competed so aggressively with them in China over the past year. I think they will explore their options but not commit until That there is not much clarity about America. The policy may change next year, “Ma told CNBC via email.

Question mark abroad

The two largest mobile operating systems – Google Android and Apple’s iOS – have just come to fruition as millions of developers are building apps for their App Store.

Huawei is working on building its base of high quality apps. By opening HarmonyOS to more devices, Huawei will be hoping to get the operating system to more devices and increase the number of users. This will make it more attractive for developers to create apps. If Huawei eventually uses HarmonyOS on its smartphone, it will want an operating system that is as robust as possible.

The Chinese giant has its own App Store and other services such as maps under a banner called Huawei Mobile Services (HMS). HMS is similar to Google Mobile Services and offers developers kits that can be used to integrate things like location services into apps.

Huawei said 96,000 apps are integrated with HMS, up to 60,000 in May, the last time they released such a figure publicly. It also has 1.8 million developers on board, up from 1.4 million in May.

Huawei’s Yu saw HarmonyOS as a way for Chinese developers to get their apps to foreign consumers, possibly hinting that Huawei wants to take the operating system global. Meanwhile, Yu said he hopes HarmonyOS can help international developers serve Chinese consumers.

“We would like the bridge to be in the middle,” Yu said.

It is unclear at this time when Huawei can launch HarmonyOS on its smartphones, a requirement that has become more pressing since being cut off from Google last year.

Experts previously cast doubt on HarmonyOS ‘potential success in international markets, given the fact that it does not have major apps such as Spotify or Netflix, and that it is unlikely that Google will put its own apps on Huawei’s software.

Meanwhile, Huawei is facing issues beyond software. The US amended a rule requiring foreign chipmakers using American devices to manufacture components to be licensed from Washington before Huawei was able to sell semiconductors. It has cut Huawei by a move from its main manufacturer chips, TSMC, which could have huge implications for its ability to make smartphones and other devices. Huawei has very few options.