Huawei’s CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei recently said that the mobile OS on which his company is working is likely to be up to 60% faster than Android. Other Chinese smartphone vendors such as Oppo and Vivo are reportedly already testing the operating system.
Huawei’s new OS, called HongMeng, doesn’t yet have an app store, which could hurt its chances of success in the global market. The Chinese market may be more welcoming, because the Chinese government has already been blocking Google’s Play Store there for many years, leading to other third-party app stores to appear on Android devices sold in China.
However, the applications running on those Android devices are still written for the Android platform, so it remains to be seen how well HongMeng will run Android applications. Otherwise, Chinese developers will need to develop new applications from scratch for Huawei’s OS when the U.S. government added Huawei to its entities list, Huawei reportedly told its partners that its store will have 50 million European users by the end of 2018. That hasn’t happened yet, as neither the OS nor the store have been officially launched.
Huawei sold 13.3 million Android smartphones in Q4 2018, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that Huawei will sell roughly the same number of devices or even more than that in a quarter with its own HongMeng OS. Huawei's OS will be completely new to potential customers, and it's also unclear how well the Android apps will run on it from day one.
Huawei's Struggles Ahead
From the rumors we’ve seen to far, Huawei is either going to use a custom Linux-based operating system or a Russian fork of the Jolla Linux-based operating system.
The original Jolla hasn’t found too much success in the market in the part few years since its original launch and other Linux-based mobile operating systems that have appeared in the past decade have also failed.
Huawei is a large smartphone vendor that may have the backing (and funds) of the Chinese government to promote this operating system in the global market. However, in order for Huawei to have even a remote chance of success, the OS itself and the support for third-party applications will need to be good enough to convince customers that they aren’t missing much compared to using any other Android smartphone.
President Trump recently said that Huawei will be excluded from the list of companies with which American companies can collaborate. If or when that happens, it remains to be seen if Huawei will abandon its project or launch it publicly in the near future. So far, Huawei has said that the launch date of its HongMeng OS is "secret."