Huawei Technologies Co, a Chinese telecommunications company, will start deploying its HarmonyOS operating system on smartphones early next month, in the latest attempt to protect its main smartphone business from US trade sanctions.
Huawei announced the release of HarmonyOS 2.0 on June 2 in a 15-second video posted on its official Weibo account. The video, titled “HarmonyOS smartphone is coming,” didn’t say if a new Huawei phone would be released at the same time.
Huawei will no longer be dependent on Google’s Android OS until it releases its own mobile operating system. According to research firm Statista, Android and Apple’s iOS account for nearly 99 percent of the global market share for mobile operating systems.
A Huawei spokeswoman called the June 2 launch “a milestone for HarmonyOS development”, but declined to elaborate.
The Shenzhen-based firm has spent tens of millions of dollars creating HarmonyOS, which runs on a variety of devices and is primarily targeted at Internet of Things applications (IoT). This is the first time Huawei has provided a clear date for when HarmonyOS will be available in smartphones.
On Tuesday, the announcement was widely discussed on Chinese social media, with the majority of netizens expressing excitement for smartphones running China’s own operating system.
“I am waiting to buy a HarmonyOS smartphone. Come on, Huawei!” said one post on the microblogging platform Weibo, which received over 9,000 likes.
“When we look back five years, the [June 2] event will be seen as a milestone and I am a lucky witness,” wrote another Weibo user, whose comment received over 3,000 likes.
HarmonyOS, also known as Hongmeng in Chinese, was announced in August 2019, three months after the US declared trade restrictions prohibiting Huawei from releasing new products with preinstalled Google apps and services.
Huawei’s head of software Wang Chenglu said at a tech event in January that the Harmony operating system is “neither a duplicate of Android nor [Apple’s] iOS,” and that it was created to connect all of the company’s Internet of Things devices.
However, Huawei’s recent trademark application for Hongmeng OS was denied because the term was already registered, causing a stumbling block in the roll-out.
Huawei’s first HarmonyOS-powered product was a smart TV launched in 2019 under its affordable Honor brand, which has since been sold. Huawei watches, computers, and home appliances have all been equipped with Harmony since then.
Richard Yu Chengdong, Huawei’s consumer division chief executive, indicated in September that the second generation of HarmonyOS would be accessible on the company’s smartphones, smart speakers, and headphones by 2021, with other devices, such as virtual reality glasses, coming after 2022.
Huawei has stated that HarmonyOS will be installed on 400 million devices this year.
The HarmonyOS project is in keeping with Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei’s goal of developing more software to mitigate the effects of US trade sanctions on the company’s overall operations.
“In the software domain, the US will have very little control over our future development, and we have much more autonomy,” Ren said at a Huawei scientists’ internal meeting last month.