Chinese tech giant Huawei will launch a homegrown new mobile operating system on Wednesday as it fights for survival in the smartphone arena after the United States blocked it from using Android. Huawei will unveil its first mobile devices loaded with the new Harmony OS in an online event broadcast from its headquarters in the southern city of Shenzhen. The development of Harmony OS has been closely watched by the tech world since the White House began an aggressive campaign to short-circuit the global ambitions of Huawei.
No company has successfully taken on the mobile OS duopoly now dominated by Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS systems. Analysts say Huawei’s most immediate challenge is in apps – convincing enough developers to reprogramme their applications and other content to work with Harmony OS so that consumers will continue to buy Huawei phones. The world’s largest supplier of telecom base station equipment and other networking gear, Huawei entered the handset business in 2003, using Android. It became one of the world’s three leading mobile phone manufacturers along with Samsung and Apple – briefly occupying the number one spot last year.
Being cut off from Android effectively prevents Huawei from offering phone users popular features such as Google’s browser, maps function, and a range of other top apps available through the system. Huawei’s access to the chips required to make a smartphone has also been curtailed. Analysts say the app’s conundrum should not be a problem in China. Since the US pressure ramped up, Huawei has moved quickly into new product lines seen as less vulnerable to US pressure and a re-focus on its core domestic market. Huawei had previously announced joining with Chinese automakers to develop intelligent vehicles and plans to move into enterprise and cloud computing.