Can Huawei Compete With Google? Only Time Can Tell.

Huawei's next move is to compete with Google as it's poised to launch its own OS and App Gallery. But will the company succeed?Huawei is the world's biggest smartphone manufacturer in Q1 2019. Photo: alerii Ilnitskii | Creative Commons | CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

When Google revoked Huawei’s Android license practically banning it from receiving future software updates and support from Android and Play Store, the China-based company’s future was placed in limbo as the company struggles to stay afloat following the controversial Google decision. But it seems that Huawei is up for a vengeance: if they can no longer use Android’s platform and could integrate with Google Play Store, they will make their own, practically competing against Google.

The revocation of Huawei’s license follows after the heightened crackdown by the U.S. government on Chinese companies. Previously, the Trump administration has been lobbying to its allies to ban Huawei’s 5G technology citing that the Chinese government can use the company for espionage and economic sabotage.

Competing against Android is not a first for other tech giants. Apple has been successful in running its OS and app store, but Microsoft was not as lucky. But the future is bright for Huawei to succeed in this feat, considering that it is now the biggest phone manufacturing and distribution company in the world. Huawei accounted for 19% of the worldwide smartphone market and became the second largest smartphone manufacturer, overtaking Apple, in Q1 2019.

In order for this to work, Huawei should work fast…very fast.

Huawei’s hope is to launch its own operating system. Some reports have mentioned that Huawei is already working with its own operating system as they have already forecasted that such thing as a Google ban will happen in the near future. The tech giant has developed Hongmeng, Huawei’s own operating system, since 2012 and they are said to be poised to release it anytime soon, reports say. The company has been testing the new OS on selected devices under closer door and closed environment.

Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether Hongmeng will be the official name of the OS from Huawei. Experts note that even if Huawei can successfully launch its operating system, the company will still be faced with the challenge of establishing an app ecosystem. It would take Huawei a lot of time to build apps that are compatible with the new operating system.

But Huawei also has a solution to this problem: to release its own App Gallery. A report from Bloomberg has said that the Chinese phone maker has been sweet-talking developers and networks to get on board. The story says that Huawei is offering considerable amounts to developers and networks to install their app store in new phones. While it is still unclear if the new app marketplace will be for all new phones or if it will be exclusive to its models only, this seems like a sound solution for Huawei’s predicament.

China is a lucrative market and exposure to the difficult app market has provided the Chinese company much leverage on developers and networks to encourage them to support its venture; an advantage that Google, Apple, and Microsoft cannot exploit. Whether this incentive is enough for Huawei to pull this goal off or not is something only time can tell.

It is also said that to make things easier during this transition, Huawei is offering developers new tools to tweak their apps to run on its phones, meaning they can be ported over with minimal effort. It can be remembered that this is a similar strategy employed by Microsoft when it released the Windows OS, but it turned out to be ineffective in the long run as Lumia sales stalled over time.

Even if Huawei can convince developers to develop apps for its own OS and app gallery, another challenge is to make sure that porting apps on its own OS becomes sustainable for developers to update. To survive this, Huawei should be able to sell enough phones and create enough demands for the developers to earn from it and prevent them from abandoning the platform altogether.

With all that it’s work, Huawei’s plans are doable and could work, but it needs effort, much of it, and financial incentives to encourage key stakeholders to get on board.

Will this turn out in favour of Huawei? If Huawei works hard and works fast, it’s possible. But then again, only time can tell.

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