Most smartphone hardware is already Chinese. A likely fallout of this US ban on Huawei is that the future of smartphone operating systems is Chinese.
My initial sentiments about the US blacklisting of Huawei from doing business with American companies was that this could backfire on the Americans. My position was that other manufacturers would read the writing on the wall and begin to make contingency plans to be less dependent on US services and technologies.
A recent report by GlobalTimes says that Tencent is working with Huawei on the project and that Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo may be testing Huawei’s new mobile operating system, HongMeng . Imagine three of the world’s top 5 Android manufacturers defecting to HongMeng. Imagine several other smaller Chinese brands following their steps.
It can’t be too difficult to see why I think that the future of smartphone operating systems is Chinese.
Google has been lobbying the US government to get them to change their mind about the ban. Why would Google do that? When the second largest manufacturer of Android phones takes a hit like this, your business suffers too. So, yes; Huawei will suffer, but so will Google.
Next, note that of the top 5 smartphone manufacturers in the world, three are Chinese – Huawei, Xiaomi, and OPPO. Why would anyone think that Xiaomi and OPPO would not take this ban seriously? You know how these things work: it is Huawei today; tomorrow, it could be them.
Which is why the news that these other two top smartphone makers are testing HongMeng OS comes as no surprise. Neither of them have invested in a backup OS like Huawei has done. Their interests are perhaps best served by taking a look at what Huawei has done in order to determmine whether or not they can roll with that.
Again, China is the world’s largest smartphone market. Google will lose a foothold in there if other Chinese brands decide that their futures lie outside of the whims and caprices of the US government. Which is likely what will happen.
Android OS Is Due For Disruption
Yes; Android OS needs competition. As a matter of fact, Android OS needs to be disrupted, and the Chinese are the best chance of that happening. We have seen it in many other fields. China is the defacto crown prince of the new global world order. All it takes is for the current monarch, the United States of America, to shoot itself in the foot, just like it is doing now.
Why does Android need disrupting? Primarilly because it is bloated and does not run smooth on low-end hardware, which was why Google came up with Android Go Edition. For years, Android fought against fragmentation but is now heading back in that direction.
Android phones keep needing more and more RAM, when in reality 4GB RAM should do. Just look at how smooth iPhones run with much less RAM. The world needs a leaner, more efficient OS.
GlobalTimes has reported that HongMeng OS is 60% faster than Android . If true, we are well on the way to seeing Android take a step back in the grand scheme of things. A much faster and smoother OS than Android will appeal to much of South Amerrica, Africa, and Asia, not to mention the rest of the world.
The US Needs Competition
Most of the mobile technologies in use today are American. That gives the US too much power to hurt others – the way it is doing now. After the early 2000s, the European mobile powers seemed to give up, fizzle out and let the USA put a rope around everyone’s neck. Siemens exited the building. Nokia did for a brief period. Then there were Ericsson, Alcatel, Sendo and others.
Now, one country holds several key patents that are in use around the world. A monopoly is never a good idea, no matter how well meaning.
The Future of Smartphone Operating Systems Is Chinese, Partly
Already, China owns the hardware side of smartphones. From Apple to Nokia, Xiaomi, OPPO, Huawei, TECNO and others, most smartphone hardware in the world is made in China. You guessed right that the next frontier is the software side, and it will be the Chinese that will own that too. It is looking like Huawei’s HongMeng OS will be the beginning of that new order.
For now, Huawei has denied the report that Xiaomi and OPPO are testing HongMeng. But time will tell as this whole debacle unravels. However, it has been reported that Huawei has shipped a million smartphones with the new HongMeng OS already. Reports say the first Ark OS phones will ship in October 2019.
The good thing is that the world can live with two main branches of Android – Google’s and Huawei’s, so we do not end up with another monopoly. All mobile users, irrespective of whether they use Android phones or HongMeng phones, will have access to the same apps because both are built on Android Open Source. It is a win-win situation. Everybody is happy.
But make no mistake about it: the road ahead is rough for Huawei. As at this moment, the Chinese company has no more access to ARM and Panasonic technology, Wi-Fi, USB and SD cards. The company has to find alternatives for a whole lot of things. Some European and Taiwanese telecom operators have already stopped selling Huawei devices.
The road ahead is rough, but as one wise man has said, “As we struggle, we gain insights. Hardship forces us to optimize.” May that be true in this situation.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.