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Will Huawei’s HarmonyOS Next Finally Challenge iOS and Android?

Huawei Technologies is hoping that its HarmonyOS Next revealed in January will finally prove to be a noteworthy competitor to the iOS and Android platforms.

As Huawei seeks to boost its own software ecosystem, it will no longer support Android apps on the latest version of Harmony. It’s come a long way since 2019 when the US’s decision to bar the use of Android on Huawei devices resulted in an existential crisis for the Chinese tech major which it now seems to have firmly staved off.

Huawei estimates that the creation of apps for HarmonyOS – built on the Linux open-source operating system – will generate at least 3 million jobs.

There are currently just over 380,000 HarmonyOS-certified developers, and Huawei has pledged to train 100,000 developers each month.

Starting in the second quarter of this year, the beta version of the new OS will be available to Huawei developers. By the fourth quarter of this year, consumers will be able to interface with the OS. The newest Mate phones released in the second half of this year are expected to be shipped with HarmonyOS Next installed within them.

Huawei’s Mate 60 which was launched towards the end of last year, backed by a Chinese Kirin processor, has notched sales of up to 1.5 million devices according to market researcher GfK.

Another market research firm, Counterpoint Research, indicated that in the first six weeks of this year, Huawei’s smartphone sales in China surged 64 per cent year-on-year and its market share jumped to 16.5 per cent and ranked second only to Vivo.

Huawei’s home market will be the strongest ground for its new OS to compete against the giants. In Q4 2023, 16 per cent of the smartphones sold in China used HarmonyOS, with it closing in on Apple’s 20 per cent of the China market share. Globally, HarmonyOS has nearly 4 per cent of the market, compared with Apple’s 23 per cent and Android’s 74 per cent market share, notes Counterpoint.

Other tech giants have been largely unsuccessful in truly countering the dominance of Apple and Android. Microsoft’s Windows Phone in partnership with Nokia, Samsung’s Tizen developed with Intel, and Alibaba’s YunOS were among those who haven’t been tremendously successful with their offerings.

However, Huawei seems to have dodged that fate and it this month revealed that the number of native HarmonyOS apps has reached the 4,000 mark, with more under development. At the HarmonyOS Next’s launch in January, more than 200 companies were reported to have participated in app development further cementing the reception and adoption of the new OS.

Last month, Huawei revealed that its net profit more than doubled in 2023. Huawei’s net profit of approximately A$18.26 billion was the biggest in five years – barring 2021 when it sold its Honor brand for an undisclosed amount. Its consumer electronics business grew 17.3 per cent over 2022 to A$52.9 billion last year.

Significantly, it added at the time of releasing its financial results that its HarmonyOS operating system was installed on more than 800 million devices across all platforms, up from about 330 million devices during the same time last year.

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