Why Huawei’s boasted new OS will probably be a flop

Huawei is known for its smartphone photography

Huawei was added to the trade blacklist by BIS on May, 16th due to concerns over violating US trade regulations. It was accused of installing malicious backdoors in its hardware while also stealing precious IP from other foreign companies. The ban was immediately effective as a great deal of US companies severe ties with Huawei. Huawei had fumbled around for a few days before its CEO Cheng Dong, Yu announced the new Huawei OS, known as the ARK OS, will make debut this fall, and is scheduled to come no later than 2020.

Huawei is not the first company attempting to break the duopoly

One thing the tech world has learned is that history tend to teach hard lessons. Conglomerates like Microsoft, Samsung and Nokia had all developed their OS seeking to fight the duopoly dominated by Android and IOS, these OS were served in their parents’ prime time. Efforts such as shipping heavily subsidized smartphones or giving developers extra perks have all been experimented, yet all these OS never even made past the preliminaries. Not only did the actual product fail to impress the public, the heavy subsidizing created dreadful financial burdens for their parents. In the end they were all terminated or put in exile by their parents. Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS was discontinued, Nokia got sold to HMD global, and Samsung’s Tizen OS was marginalized to its smart watch platform.

Can Huawei survive the sanction

Huawei’s OS, according to various sources, is simply a OS build on top of Android’s open source project, known as AOSP, however AOSP is simply a barren Android that contains no Google services whatsoever, most users will find it bland and quite lacking in features. The secret sauce to Android phones in our hands require an extra touch by GMS, known as the Google Mobile Service. GMS offers a variety of features such as Google Search, Gmail, Google Maps, Youtube…..etc., which are probably all the services you take for granted. Google owns all the right to decide whether one brand is eligible for a license, it will judge strategically base on brand recognition and its location. Manufacturers are also required to pay Google a small sum of commission to ship its products.

Apart from GMS, Google is also advocating another alliance known as the OHA, known as the Open Handset Alliance, most big brands that use Android are obliged to join the alliance, which clearly states that partners are prohibited to ship devices runnning AOSP OS build by developers other than Google itself. This strict regulation prevents OEM from developing its own AOSP OS that might potentially harm Google’s interest. The most famous incident being Google penalizing Acer for using an AOSP-based OS developed by famous Chinese brand Alibaba in 2012.

There are curently lots of speculation about how Huawei will implement its ARK OS. Many experts believe that ARK OS will be more or less similar to Android in many ways, which runs Linux in its core. The speculation seems credible because Huawei is expected to release its new flagship Mate 30 in Q3, 2019. With the short span of time to develop and refine an OS in infancy, Huawei is not expected to bring dramatic changes. So talks of using a Sailfish OS or the Short-lived Meego is unlikely to happen.

Huawei’s OS will eventually fail just like others

Huawei’s ARK OS render leaks

If an OS wants to be successful, it must retain a huge amount of supporters, not just from customers, but also from developers around the world. Apple used the app stores to regulate and nurture its own ecosystem, while Google on the other hand prioritized free web service to the mass to accumulate loyal fans.

Huawei did neither……

Huawei could never replace Google’s Firebase service which includes cloud computing, syncing, and storage. The effort Google spent for the last decade on building its own infrastructure around the world brings the competition far from what Huawei can do. Aside from that, State aid, Huawei’s biggest advantage in China, suddenly turns to a giant disadvantage in foreign lands. Most government tend to keep a wary eye on Huawei whenever Huawei tries to do business in their territory. Not just for the fear of getting spied on, but also wary of provoking the Trump administration who is at full assault against China.

Some people argue that Huawei could simply acquire services by buying companies around the world. There are literally hundreds of alternatives that could provide the same service Google offers. Not quite, you could buy tons of companies, but the service are bound to be inconsistent, you could find mails inaccessible when you travel abroad, or video playback stutter heavily. But for the most part, creators will be reluctant to upload content to Huawei services in fear of privacy infringement.

One other important aspect Huawei lacks is its capability to provide integrated services to its users. Huawei could never match Google’s solution in providing a fully usable service that covers productivity, entertainment, accessibility, and ease of use. Even if Huawei could eventually bring out its own service, it will still be troubled by means to attract user on board.

Huawei needs to get rid of its political background

The sanction imposed by the Trump administration marks the prequel of a new cold war in the 21th century. But if you inspect the case closely, you’ll discover that only state-funded companies like ZTE and Huawei were effected. Other brands like Xiaomi, OPPO, even Lenovo were in the safe list. This is due to the fact that the companies above were smart enough to know that China relies heavily on American supply chains, especially in high-tech components like the CPU, OS and tons of software licences.

Huawei has always been accused of been the proxy of the Chinese govenment, and this is technically, TRUE. Incidents like the AiPi Moon photography controversy, or the chairman Ren, Jheng Fei’s PLA background all point to how it’s acting in favor of the Chinese government. If Huawei poses a potential risk of spying on others, it will simply be harder for them to promote their OS.

China simply needs to learn the lesson

China has always been notorious for its respect for fundamental human rights. Not to mention labor camps in Xinjiang, launching campaigns trying to invade Taiwan or butchering its own citizen in 1989/6/4. Last year, the US finally found traces of ZTE and Huawei violating the US trade regulation by selling US goods to Iran. This gave Trump a good excuse to ban all 69 companies that is affiliated with Huawei, including Huawei itself.

Suddenly ARM, Synopsys, Intel, Google…..all showed up on news to break ties with Huawei. The sanction stirred up nationalism in China, people going on streets protesting persecution. Yet as much as China wants to retaliate, if their governmental infrastructures still runs on Intel cores, their cheap phones shipping with Android, and young kids still boast about their new iPhone, it is far from easy to simply cut ties with the US to prove China is capable, no it’s not.

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