A Huawei Smartphone OS, History Says It ‘Will Fail’
When we asked Huawei for a response yesterday to the Google Android ban, the Company responded pointing out that they are looking to launch their own OS to take on Google Android and Apple’s iOS despite a history of mobile OS failures in the past.
The move has already been labelled a ‘high risk’ and one that won’t work due in part to history and the engineers being used to work on the project.
The WebOS in an LG TV is the same OS that was developed by John Rubenstein one of the architects of Apple’s iOS, it’s also the same OS that powered Palm smartphones a device that failed dismally because consumers failed to take to the OS and developers refused to develop apps for the platform.
Seven years ago, Huawei opened a small research centre in Finland, tapping the home country of its rival Nokia for engineers who had built a mobile phone operating system in the past.
The only problem is that the Nokia OS was also a disaster resulting in Nokia falling from #1 in the smartphone market to being pushed out of the market by Android and Apple devices.
Today Nokia devices are powered by the Android OS.
Starting with just 20 engineers, Huawei has gradually built up headcount in Finland, opening bases in Helsinki, Oulu and Tampere in preparation for the day when it might need an alternative to Android.
That day appears to be now after their worst fears, overnight became a reality. when Google stopped Huawei getting access to their Android OS.
Tim Watkins, head of Huawei in Western Europe, said the company had been “astounded” by the ban, but said Huawei was “as well prepared as we could have been”.
Analysts claim that like many others before them Huawei will struggle to convince consumers outside of China to make the swap and lose their access to Google’s suite of apps, such as Gmail, YouTube and Maps, and to the 2.5m apps in the Google Play store.
Forrester Richard Windsor, an independent analyst, said that the quality of an in-house Huawei system was irrelevant as “no one is going to buy it”.
Gartner research shows that less than 1.5m phones at the end of 2017 used an alternative operating system, a mere 0.1 per cent of the market, and most attempts to compete with Android have ended in failure.
Carolina Milanesi, an analyst with Creative Strategies, said that the issue for Huawei in using its own operating system will be whether third party developers would have any interest in supporting it and how smartphone users outside China would access Google.
“Creating a store and supporting developers is not trivial. Just ask Samsung or Amazon [about] their attempt to go head to head with Android, either with a different OS or with a fork,” she said.
Analysts said being cut off from Android was a hammer blow to a company whose smartphone business has been growing at high speed.
Huawei’s phone sales rose 50 per cent year-on-year to 59m in the first quarter, while its rivals Samsung and Apple dropped 10 per cent and 23 per cent respectively.
“Huawei seemed to have unstoppable momentum but with one single blow this could undermine their ambition to become the world’s largest smartphone maker,” said Ben Wood, principal analyst at CCS Insight.
Another telecoms consultant said that the move by Google was the clearest sign, yet that Huawei’s partners are “abandoning ship” said Milanesi.
Tonight, Huawei will launch its new flagship Honor phone in London, but carrier networks are reluctant to stock the new device because of the consumer risk. These carriers are already facing questions from concerned Huewei device owners.
Huawei is now claiming that it will be able to roll out its own mobile phone operating system “very quickly” if its smartphones are cut off from Google’s Android software.
Some say, “good luck”.