— Mobile

Huawei rolls out its own operating system to smartphones

HONG KONG — Huawei launched its own HarmonyOS mobile operating system on its handsets on Wednesday. It adapts to losing access to Google mobile services two years ago after the U.S. put the Chinese telecommunications company on a trade denylist.

The Shenzhen-based company announced that about 100 Huawei smartphone models will use its proprietary HarmonyOS system. The operating system will also be available on certain tablets and bright screens in the year’s fourth quarter.

The launch of the operating system comes as the company is still cut off from American technologies, including Google’s services and some computer chips to power its devices after the U.S. put it on an “entity list,” saying Huawei might aid China’s espionage efforts, an accusation the company vehemently denies.

Huawei’s inclusion on the list restricts American companies from doing business with Chinese telecommunications equipment and smartphone maker. The blocklist has been a critical blow for Huawei, which has relied on essential technologies from the U.S.


“The user experience of HarmonyOS has surpassed the experience of the Android era. We solved issues such as the slowing down and lagging of devices over time in the Android era,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer unit, in an online product launch event Wednesday.

“Our HarmonyOS has stronger functionality and endurance, and it will be the greatest operating system in this Internet of Things era,” he said.

Other Chinese smartphone makers such as Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo have since overtaken Huawei in global sales. Huawei currently ranks seventh globally and third in China, following a 50% drop in smartphone shipments in the first quarter of this year compared to last year.

Last November, Huawei also sold its budget Honor smartphone brand as it sought to cushion the impact of the U.S. sanctions. Huawei’s HarmonyOS smartphone rollout is a workaround for its lack of access to Google services, especially for smartphones it sells abroad. While handsets sold before Huawei’s blocklisting continue to run Google services, its newer devices will have no access to Google’s mobile services or updates.

Google is blocked in China, so Huawei users in China are unlikely to be affected. But the lack of access to Google services makes Huawei a less attractive choice for overseas users, who are used to watching videos on YouTube or using the Gmail email app, analysts say.

Attempts to popularize Huawei’s new HarmonyOS may be an uphill task. Challenges to dominant operating systems have usually fallen flat, such as Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system and Samsung’s Tizen operating system, which is unpopular in the smartphone world but is used in smartwatches.

“It’ll be interesting to see what the Harmony OS user interface looks like and whether there are some features that give it a leg up with some users, but I’m not holding my breath,” said Bryan Ma, vice president of client devices at market research firm IDC. “It still comes back to all the discussion that’s been happening over the past couple of years which is, if there are no Google services, that’s a big problem,” he said.

However, Huawei’s move to a mobile operating system that can run on smartphones could give it a new business model of distributing it to other smartphone vendors in China that might be eager to earn revenue by listing their apps on Huawei’s mobile services. “HarmonyOS might be quite appealing to vendors who don’t have the resources to build their OS,” said Nicole Peng, vice president of mobility at Canalys.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button