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Summary

Huawei has introduced Harmony OS, its own operating system, for a number of smart devices, including smart TVs, smart speakers, and smart watches. However, the company has said it is still committed to using Google's Android OS on its smartphones. The introduction of Harmony OS was precipitated by the US government's import ban against the company.

Harmony will only be a long-term solution for Huawei if things go very wrong

With Huawei barred from having a commercial arrangement with Google under the import ban, Ovum had expected the company to debut some form of its own operating system. In short, the OS represents Huawei hedging its bets in case the trade dispute between the US and China does not relent and the import ban remains in effect. Ovum doubts that Harmony is Huawei's first choice despite its praise for the security benefits of the OS's microkernel architecture. Ovum views Harmony OS as comparable to Samsung's Tizen: it is there as a last-gasp desperation measure, but it is primarily a negotiating tool to prove Huawei can survive without Google.

Although it covers a vast swathe of new devices, smartphones are not a platform for Harmony. Due to the import ban, however, Ovum does not believe that Huawei can be 100% committed to Android for its smartphone future, regardless of what it says. The delay in getting Harmony to smartphones has much to do with the level of complexity in creating a smartphone operating system on top of issues with app compatibility and gaining consumers' and service providers' trust in the new operating system. Gaining this trust will be a big challenge for an operating system designed and controlled by Huawei, given the security allegations that have dogged the company. Ovum believes it is much more likely that the company will use a version of open source Android for its smartphones before it uses Harmony.

Appendix

Further reading

"Huawei's handset ban should not deter operators from working with Chinese brands," CES004-000092 (May 2019)

Author

Daniel Gleeson, Principal Analyst, Consumer Technology

daniel.gleeson@ovum.com

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