Chinese telecom giant Huawei pushes forward with ambitious plan to dethrone Android

Hundreds of technical experts from many of China’s biggest state-owned and private companies, including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Telecom, Meituan, and Baidu, all gathered in Beijing last month. The purpose behind the meeting was for their staff to receive training so they could be certified as developers on Huawei’s Harmony Operation System (OS).

While most observers were looking the other way, Huawei has been quietly building an independent Chinese operating system that isn’t subject to U.S. sanctions. In the four years after the telecom giant was banned from using Google apps, the Shenzhen-based company has been making significant strides toward achieving its long-term goal: To dethrone Android and make its HarmonyOS the default operating system in China.

↫ Nina Xiang for Forbes Asia

HarmonyOS is poised to succeed in beating iOS and Android where others have failed, if only because the Chinese state is pushing homegrown solutions hard. It’s already hit 10% market share in China, closing in on iOS’ 17%, but still kilometres away from Android’s 72%. However, with both local governments and the government in Beijing enacting all kinds of laws and guidelines to force companies, institutions, and people to switch to homegrown solutions, it wouldn’t surprise me to see this market share climb fast.

And that’s actually okay! Setting aside the fact the Chinese government is a genocidal totalitarian surveillance nightmare apparatus, I think it’s entirely understandable, reasonable, and a good investment to have homegrown technology solutions and platforms. I wish the European Union did something similar, but that ship has probably sailed after we let Microsoft gut whatever was left of Nokia after Apple was done with it.


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