Huawei HarmonyOS officially arrives: Will Chinese Co. multi-platform OS succeed where Samsung, Microsoft, and Nokia faltered?

Huawei HarmonyOS
HarmonyOS is here, but will it succeed? Pic credit: Open Grid Scheduler/Grid Engine/FlickrCC0 1.0

As teased a few days ago, Huawei has officially launched its own HarmonyOS. The Chinese tech giant has confirmed the operating system will drive a wide range of internet-connected smart devices.

The HarmonyOS from Huawei now powers the company’s flagship Mate 40 and foldable Mate X2 smartphones, the Watch Series 3 smartwatch, and MatePad Pro tablet. Eventually, the Android rival will power smartphones, smartwatches, smart TVs, smart wearables, and perhaps even home electronics.

Huawei launches HarmonyOS but only for its own devices:

Huawei has officially launched its self-developed operating system. The HarmonyOS will power a number of devices, including smartphones.

There are several reasons why Huawei developed its own operating system when nearly every major smartphone brand, except Apple Inc., has adopted Android. The U.S. had blacklisted Huawei in 2019. This cut off the company’s ready access to Google’s Android operating system.

These restrictions, combined with severe sanctions, effectively severed Huawei’s access to critical semiconductors. Some experts claim it cannot be a mere coincidence that such moves crippled Huawei’s smartphone business mere months after it became the number one smartphone brand in the world.

Huawei has been quietly developing HarmonyOS since 2016. However, the company indicated the OS was a backup. Nonetheless, Huawei’s Android replacement can work across many internet-connected devices from smartphones to wearables.

Incidentally, HarmonyOS debuted in 2019, but on Huawei’s sub-brand Honor’s smartwatch. However, Huawei has now adopted the OS for its own flagship smartphones.

Interestingly, Huawei has even indicated that many of the company’s older phones will be able to upgrade to HarmonyOS.

Here’s why Huawei’s OS might succeed where companies like Samsung, Microsoft, and even Nokia faltered:

There’s little doubt that Huawei adopted HarmonyOS because the U.S. ensured the company does not have access to Google’s Android. Without Android, Huawei doesn’t have official access to Google Mobile Services (GMS) and the Play Store, which houses thousands of popular apps.

Today, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS dominate the smartphone and smart devices’ operating system. However, companies like Microsoft, Samsung, and even Nokia have developed operating systems for smartphones and faltered.

Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Nokia’s multiple iterations such as Symbian once dominated the smartphone OS segment. But Google launched Android, and the landscape changed completely. Samsung, however, is still holding on to Tizen, and the prospects do look promising.

The primary reason companies like Microsoft and Nokia don’t dominate the market today is app support. With limited apps and few committed developers, these companies didn’t stand a chance against Android.

Huawei, on the other hand, has a diverse suite of apps such as mapping and a browser. They come under a brand called Huawei Mobile Services (HMS).

HMS is similar to Google Mobile Services and offers developers, software kits that they can use to integrate things like location services into apps. HMS has 2.7 million registered developers globally.

Huawei also claims its own app store, called App Gallery, has 540 million monthly active users worldwide. Additionally, the company has opened its operating system to third-party device makers.

The only big challenge that Huawei might face is international adoption. Android dominates the global smartphone market. Meanwhile, Huawei is now largely an Asian company for smartphones.

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