After all the speculations surrounding Huawei’s Harmony OS (known as HongMeng in China) and repeated assertions from the company’s founder and CEO, Ren Zhengfei, on how it may replace Android in future smartphones from the company, it turns turns out a full Android replacement was never on the firm’s agenda in the first place. According to Huawei’s VP of public relations, Joy Tan, Huawei does not need to replace Android, it only needs an alternative to Google Mobile Services (GMS).
According to Tan, the Chinese telecom giant is already working on ‘Huawei Mobile Services’ (HMS) to replaces Google apps and services, but it will take a long time to replace Google as the platform of choice for smartphone users outside China. While the company is understood to have been already working on an IoT operating system of its own, work on the technology started in earnest following the US-imposed sanctions that are preventing US companies from doing business with it.
It’s worth noting here that the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro have already launched without Google services; a critical functionality that many believe might affect their global sales significantly. Thanks to the ongoing trade war between the US and China, the devices are the first Huawei smartphones to lack official Google support, which means even though they run Android, they don’t have access to any official Google apps and services, including Google Play, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube etc.
It will be interesting to see if Huawei will be able to lure enough developers to port their apps over to its own platform, but given that the company already has a massive (Android) user base in China, it may still be an easier task to get developers to support its Android-based platform than to shift everybody over to a new OS altogether.