Chinese technology Huawei, facing global isolation for its latest 5G technology over reports of espionage by Chinese administration, is set to launch a new operating system for smartphones next week. The move is likely to be part of an all-out push into the software industry aimed at weathering US sanctions and taking on Google’s Android.
Huawei plans to launch its first HarmonyOS platform in a short teaser on social media on June 2. According to an internal company memo, company founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei outlined plans to go big in the software sector. The 76-year-old assured the company that “in the software domain, the US will have very little control over our future development, and we have much autonomy.”
On the back of the new launch, Huawei plans to transform and launch new product lines seen as less vulnerable to US pressure and a re-focus on its core domestic market. After American sanctions were slapped on the company in 2018 the top telecom gear maker was barred from the huge American market and cut off from global component supply chains.
Access to Google’s Android operating system was also forbidden, and Washington has pressured allies to ban or rip out Huawei gear from their telecom networks. Donald Trump in 2018 accused Huawei of illegal activities claiming its networking equipment installed worldwide could be used by China’s Communist Party for espionage or sabotage.
The Android curbs have threatened to torpedo Huawei’s smartphone business – once in the global top three along with Samsung and Apple — forcing it to create HarmonyOS. Meanwhile, analysts have warned that creating a successful new mobile operating system is exceedingly difficult in a world where Android and iOS are firmly entrenched, and next Wednesday’s launch will be watched closely by the tech world.
The company has meanwhile not shared any further details on the launch other than the timing. Further, the timing is also good because the advent of 5G networks in years to come will radically change the tech landscape, offering major new opportunities in artificial intelligence, wired ‘smart cities, intelligent vehicles, and other tech spheres.
Huawei in April announced that it would work with Chinese automakers to develop intelligent vehicles after earlier unveiling moves into enterprise and cloud computing. Following global sanctions, Huawei’s mobile phone sales, along with overall revenue growth, have sagged since last year.
The firm sold its Honor budget smartphone brand late last year as it shuffled its product mix, but has vowed to retain its flagship handset brand.