Huawei embracing their own operating system both can be positive and negative for them.
The positive aspect is two fold.
If it takes off, that makes Huawei in a similar position to Google, with their own desirable operating system other manufacturers would want, and then that could bring in profits for Huawei as they could get HMS Core onto other phones, similar to how Google gets their GMS Services onto other phones, potentially creating a new revenue stream.
Huawei having their own operating system also gives them more flexibility. They don’t have to be concerned about fitting into Google’s ecosystem and can add their own features, potentially making HarmonyOS in the long-run much more competitive than Android. Google is notorious for building stable systems that have very little quality-of-life features, and Android is no exception. HarmonyOS could potentially be much more desirable if they have a focus on QoL.
The negative aspect, however, is that it has lost GMS , and as the operating system diverges more and more from Android over time, there is no guarantee that it will even remain compatible with traditional APKs. It may eventually diverge so much that you can only use apps specifically developed for HarmonyOS and sideloading Android apps will not work.
The loss of GMS and potential loss of Android app support in the long-run disconnects HarmonyOS from hundreds of thousands of apps, and Huawei has to make sure that they replace that software library.
Huawei’s AppGallery is very limited and I already find that most apps I need very rarely exist there, and I have to use alternative app stores like QooApp to even get games. For some reason, Huawei’s own app store doesn’t even have the popular Chinese games, like Arknights or Genshin Impact.
If their AppGallery does not get a good selection of apps, and HarmonyOS diverges enough from Android in the long-run that secondary Android app stores like QooApp are no longer compatible, then I’ll have to abandon HarmonyOS, because I won’t be able to get the apps I want with it.
I think this is HarmonyOS’s biggest potential problem. Lack of software support could hurt them in the long-run. The fact they are producing less smartphones than Xiaomi now also means that there may be less motivation in the Chinese market to develop for HarmonyOS.
It would be very wise for Huawei to try and make a partnership with Xiaomi to try and get some of their phones to put HarmonyOS on them. Getting more devices to run the operating system will encourage more people to try and get their apps onto Huawei’s AppGallery. Huawei should also put in some effort to contact companies who make popular apps like the ones I mentioned before and try to get them to bring those over to the AppGallery.
Ultimately, I think HarmonyOS could be very good for Huawei in the long-run. They have to be very active about it, though. They can’t just release it willy-nilly and then forget about it.
They need to:
- Add a lot of quality-of-life features to make it actually desirable over Android.
- Get other companies to begin putting it on their smartphones.
- Get other companies to begin porting apps to HMS.
If Huawei does not do these things, then HarmonyOS, I’d predict, might actually hurt Huawei in the long-run. They’d have a phone operating system with limited software and nothing significantly desirable over Android in terms of features. This would make a lot of people just choose not to buy Huawei because they could get more features from Xiaomi Android phones with a larger app selection.
We just have to wait and see what Huawei does.
I hope it turns out well for Huawei, because the lack of basic quality-of-life features on Android is something I have always been annoyed by and would love an improved operating system, and Huawei also makes very high quality hardware. It would be great to have a real alternative to Android and GMS, and I think extra competition could even encourage Google to improve their operating system a bit more.