Huawei Aims for Harmony OS to Challenge Android and iOS Dominance in China

Huawei Aims for Harmony OS to Challenge Android and iOS Dominance in China

Huawei Technologies anticipates that its HarmonyOS will disrupt the stronghold of Western mobile operating systems in China, especially with the upcoming version that will no longer support Android apps.

The new iteration, known as HarmonyOS Next, is designed to be a “China-originated, independent and controllable” system, according to Richard Yu Chengdong, chairman of Huawei’s consumer business group. This announcement was made during the company’s developer conference on Friday.

At the event, Huawei introduced a beta version of HarmonyOS Next for developers, with a beta release for consumers slated for August.

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The commercial launch of the mobile platform upgrade will coincide with the release of Huawei’s next flagship 5G smartphone series, the Mate 70, in the fourth quarter of this year, as stated by Yu.

Huawei’s recent announcements underscore its efforts to strengthen HarmonyOS’ presence in China, having already surpassed Apple’s iOS as the second-largest mobile operating system in the region in the first quarter.

Yu highlighted that HarmonyOS achieved in a decade what took Western counterparts 30 years, crediting it with a 10-percent performance improvement over the Linux kernel, which is the foundation of the Android platform.

HarmonyOS: A Response to Trade Restrictions

HarmonyOS was introduced as an alternative to Android in August 2019, following the U.S. government’s decision to add Huawei to its Entity List. This listing prevents Huawei from purchasing software, chips, and other technologies of U.S. origin without specific approval from Washington.

Currently, more than 900 million devices operate on HarmonyOS, with over 2.5 million developers creating applications for the platform, according to Yu.

The rapid adoption of HarmonyOS is bolstered by significant growth in Huawei’s smartphone shipments. The Pura 70 series, launched in late April, saw a 68 percent increase in shipments by the end of May compared to its predecessor. Similarly, shipments of the Pura 70 and Mate 60 series grew by 72 percent in the first five months of the year.

Huawei secured the fourth position in China’s smartphone market in the first quarter, holding a 15.5 percent share and experiencing nearly 70 percent sales growth, as reported by Counterpoint Research.

Building the HarmonyOS Ecosystem

Eric Xu Zhijun, Huawei’s rotating chairman, emphasized in April that expanding the HarmonyOS app ecosystem is a pivotal goal for the company in 2024.

To support this initiative, Huawei has collaborated with major Chinese enterprises to develop HarmonyOS-based applications. Partners include Alibaba Group Holding, Meituan, Ant Group, JD.com, and McDonald’s China. (Alibaba is the parent company of the South China Morning Post.)

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