Huawei’s new smartphone operating system could be used to drive a wedge in Google’s Android dominance of the market, further signs from China on June 11 suggests. Global Times of China, which is basically a government mouthpiece states, “Huawei is reportedly intensively testing its proprietary operating system (OS) HongMeng with internet giants and domestic smartphone vendors, and the new system will be launched in the next few months.”
Given the source, the story needs to be contextualized as being part of the ongoing PR battle being waged by Beijing against Washington. The motif of the story is China’s threat to split the global smartphone ecosystem as an alternative to Google’s Android software and services. So, if Huawei along with the government can rally other leading Chinese companies, then it’ll become more than just one company’s attempt to survive a blacklisting.
The Global Times also cited that the Chinese technology giant Tencent along with other smartphone makers viz. Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo, as well as a Chinese carrier, are working with Huawei to push forward the launch of HongMeng OS.
Similarly, reports suggest that the new OS is launching on Huawei Mate 30 launch in this fall, whereas the P40 is referenced as an alternative. However, it’s still skeptical that the new OS is ready for the market or not, and thus the release date remains secret.
But no technology companies have referenced these comments.
The Global Times put a story headline saying the new OS will be “60% faster than Android, ” the same claim that was made by Richard Yu, who is Huawei’s smartphone business head. But again, nothing has yet substantiated this claim.
On the other hand, the South China Morning Post put an article questioning whether Huawei’s front-foot battle with the US is survivable without concessions from talks between leaders Trump and Xi. The bluster was “a nice morale booster for the troops but belied the reality of Huawei’s dependence on U.S. core technology.” And the Stark condition for the company stays that CEO Ren and his lieutenants are “facing the full force of the United States government, with the fight to the end has come sooner than expected.”
Whereas, Bloomberg reports that both Google and Apple are looking forward to the options for manufacturing products outside of China to maneuver around US sanctions and Chinese reciprocation. Google “is moving some production of Nest thermostats and server hardware out of China, avoiding punitive U.S. tariffs and an increasingly hostile government in Beijing,” while “Apple has a backup plan if the U.S.-China trade war gets out of hand,” with the company’s manufacturing partner Foxconn having “enough capacity to make all iPhones bound for the U.S. outside of China if necessary.”
Inevitably, Google will face a major loss if Chinese phone makers co-ordinate for a non-Google OS. Huawei uses the open-source Android version, as the Google services are already restricted in China. Thus, this constraints security updates and prompted Google to warn the US government of national security risks, asking for the blacklist to exempt Android. Again, the open-source OS also cuts Google off from the consumer data that drives its advertising machine, which is another reason why Huawei cutting OS ties leads to a heavy cost.
The new OS for Huawei clearly looks like a “make or break” unless anything changes in the U.S. stance. So, it clearly needs the OS to launch quickly as well as successfully. And it will require to steady its consumer ship as well. It also needs to retrieve the upper hand to get its brand confidence back. Because it clearly is a hellish trick to pull off, asking consumers in countries outside of China to swap to something new.