Huawei Aims to Globalize HarmonyOS Phone Platform

HarmonyOS, Homegrown, Huawei, phone, Platform, Worldwide

Huawei, the Chinese technology giant, has announced its plans to expand its HarmonyOS smartphone platform worldwide, despite facing US-led sanctions that have limited its access to crucial technologies. During its 21st Analyst Summit in Shenzhen, Huawei’s rotating chairman, Erik Xu, revealed the company’s strategy to build up the HarmonyOS app ecosystem in the Chinese market first before gradually extending its reach to other parts of the globe. This expansion will involve the migration of apps to HarmonyOS and the encouragement of app developers to code for the platform.

According to Xu, Chinese Huawei smartphone users spend approximately 99% of their time on around 5,000 apps. This prompted the company to make the decision to prioritize the porting of these apps to HarmonyOS by 2024. Xu stated, “We are also encouraging other apps to be ported over to HarmonyOS.” He further revealed that more than 4,000 of these apps are already in the process of being transferred, while the company is actively communicating with developers regarding the remaining 1,000 apps. Despite the magnitude of this undertaking, Xu expressed confidence in the support from the industry and numerous app developers. He stated, “Once we have these first 5,000 Android apps — and thousands of other apps — up and running on HarmonyOS, we will have a real HarmonyOS: a third mobile operating system for the world.” Additionally, Xu believes that the number of apps on HarmonyOS could grow to reach 1 million in the future.

Counterpoint Research data reveals that in the fourth quarter of 2023, HarmonyOS captured 4% of the global market share and exceeded 16% market share in China. These figures establish HarmonyOS as the third largest mobile operating system based on handset sales, ranking behind Android and iOS. However, it remains uncertain whether there will be significant demand for HarmonyOS beyond China due to the ongoing sanctions and strained relations between the United States, the European Union, and China.

Huawei’s decision to expand HarmonyOS globally demonstrates the company’s determination to withstand the challenges posed by the US-led sanctions. By prioritizing the Chinese market first, where Huawei enjoys substantial support, the company aims to solidify HarmonyOS as a viable alternative to Android and iOS.

The migration of 5,000 apps to HarmonyOS is an ambitious project that showcases Huawei’s commitment to provide a comprehensive app ecosystem for its users. This will be crucial in enticing consumers to adopt HarmonyOS smartphones rather than competitors’ devices. Huawei’s ability to successfully execute this migration will determine the popularity and viability of HarmonyOS in the global market.

The support from app developers will play a crucial role in the success of Huawei’s expansion plans. Encouraging developers to code for HarmonyOS is a challenging task, as Android and iOS currently dominate the mobile app landscape. However, Huawei’s standing within the industry and its significant presence in the Chinese market could serve as persuasive factors for developers to consider supporting HarmonyOS.

Counterpoint Research’s data highlights the initial success of HarmonyOS in China, where it has managed to capture a significant market share. This achievement suggests that there is a level of acceptance and demand for an alternative mobile operating system in the Chinese market. Huawei can leverage this momentum to expand its reach to other countries gradually. The success of HarmonyOS in China provides a foundation for Huawei to build upon as it moves into other global markets.

Nevertheless, Huawei’s global expansion plans for HarmonyOS face several obstacles. The ongoing US-led sanctions hinder Huawei’s ability to access critical technologies necessary for the development and optimization of HarmonyOS. Additionally, the strained relations between the US, the European Union, and China could impact Huawei’s ability to build partnerships with international app developers and secure global market share for HarmonyOS.

In conclusion, Huawei’s announcement to expand HarmonyOS globally demonstrates its resilience in confronting the challenges posed by sanctions and the need for an alternative mobile operating system. By emphasizing the Chinese market initially, Huawei aims to create a robust app ecosystem for HarmonyOS, enticing app developers to code for the platform and migrate existing apps. While the initial success of HarmonyOS in China is promising, its reception in international markets will depend on Huawei’s ability to navigate the geopolitical landscape and build strategic partnerships. Time will tell if HarmonyOS can emerge as a formidable third player in the mobile operating system arena.

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