Why Huawei’s Android backup would flop
Huawei has built its own proprietary smartphone operating system that can be used as a backup in case it’s barred from using Android, Huawei’s mobile chief Richard Yu Chengdong confirmed in an interview cited by South China Morning Post.
Huawei’s smartphones currently run on Google’s Android operating system, but the company began developing an Android replacement as a contingency plan should it face a similar ban to the one imposed on Chinese smartphone maker ZTE in April 2018, which prevented US companies from selling components to ZTE for seven years.
Huawei’s confirmation comes amid growing political tensions between the US and China, along with the company’s legal problems in the US.
If Huawei’s forced to use its Android replacement, it’ll be fighting a losing battle against the Android operating system in the global smartphone market.
- The Android operating system controls the vast majority of global market share.Android was installed on just over 74% of smartphones globally as of February 2019. Meanwhile, iOS captured a 23% share.
- Other tech giants, including Microsoft, Samsung, and Blackberry, have failed to break the Android-iOS duopoly. Microsoft launched its latest smartphone operating system, Windows 10 Mobile, in 2015, but struggled to convince app developers to build for the platform. Microsoft began scaling back support for the platform in October 2017 as a result, and in December 2018 announced plans to end support for the operating system in December 2019.
- Huawei would run the risk of alienating customers who’ve become accustomed to the Android OS interface and Google’s suite of preinstalled apps. By switching to its own operating system, Huawei could see customers defect to other brands running Android to keep the offering they’re familiar with.
On the other hand, Huawei may be the best Chinese smartphone vendor to take on Android. Huawei is the third-largest smartphone vendor globally and continues to grow its dominance. Its smartphone shipments grew nearly 34% year-over-year (YoY) in 2018, according to IDC, which helped it grab a 15% share of the global smartphone market, up from 10% in 2017.
Therefore, if Huawei were to migrate to its own operating system, and users stuck with it, it’d be a blow to Android’s share of the global smartphone market, and for the uptake of Google’s core services like Google Search, Chrome, and the Play Store.