The Loss Of The Android License Is A Unique Opportunity For Huawei
Huawei could well revolutionize the smartphone industry in the coming months
The announcement of Huawei’s ban by Donald Trump in May 2019 was seen as a very hard stop for Huawei. Indeed, the Chinese company was on its way to become the worldwide smartphone vendors leader within 2 to 3 years, whereas it had already taken second place from Apple.
This ban, which led to the loss of the famous Android license issued by Google, jeopardized Huawei’s ambitions. Worse still, it makes it impossible for Huawei to rely on ARM processor technologies, which are essential to the manufacture of its Kirin processors.
The Coming Months Will Be Difficult
To get out of the water and continue to grow, Huawei will therefore have to step outside its comfort zone and try to put an end to any dependence on companies that may be affected by US decisions such as the one made by Donald Trump.
The magnitude of the task ahead for Huawei is therefore immense, if not insoluble. Indeed, its brand new smartphones the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro, which should boost the Chinese manufacturer’s end-of-year sales, will not be able to offer Google’s Android. In other words, these devices will be based on the open source version of Android but will not offer any of Google’s services to users.
As a result, they will not be able to access the Google Play Store and its millions of applications to download, YouTube and its millions of videos and music to watch, Google Maps or Gmail. This is clearly a hard blow because these applications are ultra popular with Western users.
Instead of Google applications, it is likely that users will have to settle for Chinese equivalents such as Baidu Maps or WeChat. Not sure these alternatives will do the trick. At least for the time being.
The coming months will therefore be very difficult for Huawei.
HarmonyOS Is Already There
While the coming months will be difficult for Huawei with smartphone sales probably down sharply, the Chinese manufacturer has reason to hope. Its own operating system, HarmonyOS, is already a reality.
Presented at the beginning of August 2019, HarmonyOS has a progressive provisional deployment schedule extending until 2022. It will first equip Huawei’s future Smart TV, then the brand’s connected watches before switching to Huawei notebooks and finally equipping connected speakers.
During the HarmonyOS presentation, Huawei said he hoped to continue to equip his smartphones and tablets with Android as long as he had the authorization. Nevertheless, the Chinese company was ready to switch its new smartphones to HarmonyOS more quickly in the event of a tightening in the trade war between the United States and China.
It seems that the situation is getting worse and that Huawei already has to accelerate its planning to release its future smartphones on HarmonyOS.
Huawei Has The Resources To Emancipate From The US
Huawei must therefore accelerate its emancipation from Google’s Android but must also emancipate itself from ARM technologies. More generally, Huawei must free itself from all companies that may be subject to US sanctions.
For most smartphone manufacturers, the situation would be inextricable. Nevertheless, Huawei has the necessary resources to achieve such emancipation. Indeed, the Chinese company has very serious assets to promote:
- Huawei is already at the forefront of smartphone camera technologies.
- Huawei produces Kirin processors, which are becoming the most powerful technology.
- Huawei is at the forefront of 5G both in terms of smartphones and telecom equipment manufacturers.
- Huawei is now among the best in smartphone design.
So we can trust Huawei to try to create something new in the smartphone and tablet industry.
For this to happen, Huawei will also have to be able to break away from ARM technologies. Serious alternative solutions exist with RSIC-V, OpenRISC, SPARC or MIPS.
Nevertheless, Huawei will have a lot of work to do for adaptating them to its specific needs. In addition, the Chinese manufacturer will probably have to design its future processors differently than it does today with HiSilicon.
Changing processor architecture while remaining competitive in terms of performance will therefore be a major challenge for Huawei.
This challenge of total emancipation that Huawei faces is a major one and will be exciting to follow in the coming months.
A Successful Emancipation Could Give Ideas
Huawei’s competitors in the smartphone market are closely monitoring the situation and in particular the launch of HarmonyOS. Indeed, Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo or Sony have long considered their dependence on Google’s Android as problematic and dangerous.
Some, like Samsung with Tizen, have already created their own alternative mobile operating system just in case. However, efforts in this direction have so far been rather limited. Samsung, which is the most advanced in this way, simply equipping its watches connected with Tizen and a few smartphones from the Z range or some Smart TV. Nothing that can threaten Google and its version of Android.
Manufacturers are well aware that the crux of the matter is the number of applications made available to users. With its Play Store, Google is therefore untouchable in the immediate future.
Nevertheless, if Huawei were to succeed in imposing its HarmonyOS on users by attracting application developers, competing manufacturers, from Samsung to Xiaomi, might be tempted to reduce their dependence on Google by launching several of their future smartphones on their own operating systems with their application layer.
Google Could Lose Out
Google has already identified this problem. For example, executives of the Mountain View firm have already stated that the banning of Huawei could ultimately penalize them by weakening Android’s ultra-dominant position in the smartphone industry.
The Mountain View firm’s nightmare being to see a Huawei totally emancipated from its Android services maintain its position in the smartphone manufacturers’ ranking and why not succeed in a few years’ time to finally take over Samsung’s leading position.
A step in this direction necessarily having impacts on other manufacturers who would have the opportunity to try such an adventure themselves to reduce Google’s dominant position.
The loss of the Android license and the impossibility to work on processors with ARM architecture are a very serious blow to Huawei. Nevertheless, the obligation given to Huawei to fully emancipate itself from US control is a unique opportunity.
This opportunity is a huge challenge for Huawei. If the Chinese manufacturer were to successfully raise it, and it has the financial and human resources, the smartphone industry would undergo a huge upheaval that could undermine the domination of Google and its version of Android over the industry.
The next few months will therefore be exciting in the smartphone industry.