Huawei launches its own software to deal with US sanctions

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Faced with US sanctions, Chinese telecom giant Huawei on Wednesday launched its own operating system, HarmonyOs, to better fight for its survival in the smartphone arena, after it was deprived of its Android license. .

The Middle Kingdom strikes back. Chinese telecom giant Huawei announced the launch on Wednesday June 2 of its own operating system, called HarmonyOS. Plagued by US sanctions for two years, the company wants to better fight for its survival in the arena of smartphones despite the loss of the Android license, belonging to Google.

Huawei unveiled its first mobile devices equipped with the new HarmonyOS system during an online event broadcast from its headquarters in Shenzhen, in the south of the country, from 8 p.m. local time (1200 GMT).

The development of HarmonyOs has been closely followed by the tech world since the Trump administration launched a very aggressive campaign in 2018 to short-circuit the ambitions of Huawei, suspected by the United States of spying for the benefit of Beijing.

Huawei was placed on the blacklist by Washington in 2019, which prevents the Chinese group from accessing American technologies for its products, and in particular the Android operating system, owned by Google and used by almost all manufacturers. non-Apple smartphones, which use its own iOS.

However, so far no company has managed to tackle the duopoly of mobile operating systems: Blackberry, Microsoft’s Windows Phone and Amazon’s Fire device have each abandoned the battlefield.

As the world’s largest provider of telecommunications base station equipment and other networking equipment, Huawei entered the mobile phone business in 2003, using Android.

It had become one of the top three smartphone makers in the world, along with Korea’s Samsung and America’s Apple, even temporarily taking the number one spot, boosted by Chinese demand and sales in emerging markets.

But US sanctions, which have notably cut the company off from global component supply chains, have thrown its mobile phone segment into uncertainty.

Analysts say the biggest challenge facing Huawei at the moment is apps: convincing enough developers to reprogram their apps and other content to work with HarmonyOS, so consumers keep buying Huawei phones.

The candidacy challenge

Being deprived of Android, Huawei can no longer offer users of its smartphones very popular applications, such as the Google search browser or its mapping function, Google Maps.

Huawei’s access to the chips needed to make a smartphone has also been limited, and its shipments have dropped dramatically in recent quarters.

According to analysts, Huawei should be able to easily solve the problem of the application market in China, its interior: those it has developed are designed for its compatriots.

Towards independence from the American market

But in the rest of the world, the outlook is much bleaker.

“In terms of content, when you talk about the international market, you can’t live without Google, without Amazon or YouTube. It will be a challenge,” revealed Elinor Leung, head of internet and telecommunications research in Asia. at CLSA.

Huawei’s troubles led to a major overhaul of the company, which was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former People’s Liberation Army engineer who still serves as CEO.

Since US pressure intensified, Huawei quickly shifted to new product lines that were inefficient as well as less vulnerable and refocused on its core home market.

In an internal memo to his employees last week, Ren Zhengfei called on his employees to transform his group all over the place and to accelerate autonomy in software.

Thus, “the United States will have very little control over our future development,” wrote the businessman.

The firm has accelerated its diversification in sectors such as dematerialized computing (“cloud”) or connected vehicles, beyond 5G where it is already one of the leaders.

Huawei announced last month its desire to work in partnership with Chinese automakers for smart vehicles.

With AFP

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