Huawei HarmonyOS phones are coming, challenges remain as devices market share keeps declining
Challenges remain as devices market share keeps declining
Published: May 05, 2021 08:23 PM
Huawei HarmonyOS Photo: VCG

Huawei HarmonyOS Photo: VCG

Huawei opened an account on Tuesday for its self-developed Harmony operating system (OS) on China's mass social media Sina Weibo, a move that may indicate the much-anticipated OS, which could help Huawei counter a US export ban, will be officially put into use on mobile phones soon, industry analysts say.

The account, named "Huawei HarmonyOS", has not made any posts since launch on Tuesday, but it already garnered more than 30,000 followers as of Wednesday.

Chinese tech lovers have been closely watching and looking forward to the domestically-developed OS for a time. Some users of Huawei smartphones said that they have received a push notification for the beta update of HarmonyOS 2.0 in late April and registered to upgrade to the new beta system. 

It is expected that in early June, Huawei mobile phones will start to promote the HarmonyOS to consumers, an independent digital blogger named Pengpengjunjiadao revealed on his Weibo account on Saturday, citing Wang Chenglu, head of software at Huawei's consumer business unit.

The blogger said he expected the models that could be among the first to upgrade to the HarmonyOS in early June may include the Huawei Mate 40, Mate 30, P40 and Mate X2 series, adding that other "older brands" including those under the Honor brand which was divested by Huawei, will also be able to use the new operation system later this year.

HarmonyOS, unveiled in 2019, was widely viewed as the Chinese tech giant's replacement for Google's Android OS, since the Chinese company was barred from using Google's services under a US government export ban.

The HarmonyOS has already been used on Huawei watches, laptops and home appliances over the past two years. Senior Huawei executive Richard Yu Chengdong previously said that starting from April this year, Huawei's flagship phones would be equipped with HarmonyOS.

Ma Jihua, a close follower of Huawei, said that there are possibilities for Huawei to overtake the industry giants with the arrival of the 5G ultrafast internet. Apple and Google are also striving to upgrade their OS and adapt to the new era.

Aided by China's vast consumer base, a benign testing environment and rapid deployment of 5G networks, it might be an opportunity for the Chinese tech giant to build HarmonyOS into the world's third-largest mobile ecosystem, after Apple's iOS and Google's Android, Ma told the Global Times on Wednesday.

However, industry analysts warn that due to Huawei's shrinking smartphone shares in both the domestic and overseas markets resulting from the US export ban, the development of HarmonyOS faces some challenges. 

"First there have to be smartphones, then will come the growth of the software ecosystem," an industry analyst, who preferred not to be identified, told the Global Times on Wednesday. The analyst said that Huawei faces a dilemma in producing and launching new flagship devices due to the US government's semiconductor embargo.

Huawei's domestic smartphone market share continued to drop in recent months. According to research firm Canalys, in the first quarter this year, it ranked only third in China's smartphone market with a share of 16 percent, following Vivo and Oppo, which became China's largest and second-largest smartphone brands.

"To develop the OS ecosystem, it has to resolve its devices-making problem first, or it has to seek cooperation with other smartphone makers and convince them to use the new system - and that will take some time," said the analyst.