If the surprising new Huawei speculation is to be believed, this could be a nightmare scenario for Google. It is now clear that the world’s second largest smartphone manufacturer, with around 600 million users in its ecosystem, has declared the war on Android. This, it is said, is a “fight” that it will win. So far, Google has been pretty ambivalent – the US has restricted Huawei’s access to premium chipsets, which signals a sharp decline in Huawei smartphones over the next year. But that could change soon.
Well after that Financial Times, “Harsh US sanctions against this year [Huawei] could be less of a threat to the overall business than previously thought, ”and analysts say,“ the company’s vital smartphone arm may have a chance to recover. “Less threatening to Huawei means More Threat to Google and its lockdown on the global Android ecosystem.
First thing first – nobody knows if this is true or not. Even the trade department is believed to be subject to the vagaries of White House guidelines when it comes to Chinese technology in general, and Huawei in particular. And next week’s election will be a critical factor.
Should Trump win, Huawei will expect little rest, and that could lead to an honor sale, perhaps even a breakup into a series of less threatening mini-Huawei’s. However, should Biden win when there is little chance of a major U-turn, the emphasis may be changed. Keep in mind that a lot of US technology is heavily committed to Huawei. It is also clear that Huawei, backed by China, is looking for a domestic solution to the chipset restrictions that is free from reliance on US technology
Regardless, it is now almost inevitable that the world’s mobile ecosystems will have irreversibly changed. Android / iOS dominance, which looked imperturbable when Trump announced his blacklist last May, is now being shaken – hard. Huawei has cemented its second place in the world for smartphone shipments, and only Washington’s sanctions on chipsets are likely to knock it down. Huawei even took the top spot for a while earlier this year, driven by China’s recovery from its initial impact on the coronavirus market.
However, there are two brand new factors after the blacklist, both of which are potential game changers. First, there has been a surge in other Chinese smartphone brands in key export markets, which was initially driven by the exodus of users from Huawei without Google, but is now driving its own momentum. Xiaomi has been in tears for some time and has moved quickly to replicate Huawei’s export success. The smaller Chinese player has just overtaken Apple and is third in the world behind Huawei – that’s a big change. But there is also BBK, the Chinese giant behind Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus and RealMe, who now want to follow suit.
Second, there’s Huawei’s blacklist answer – the combination of HarmonyOS, its Android operating system alternative, and HMS, its replacement for Google Mobile Services. Until the recent sanction speculation, the HarmonyOS threat to Android has been mitigated by the chipset’s sanctions. However, if Huawei’s smartphone sales can rebound, that will change significantly. In addition, Huawei has now confirmed that HarmonyOS will be available as an open source operating system used by other Chinese OEMs to build bridges between China and the West, Huawei says.
So now this is getting interesting. Because the other actor in the game is China. The country now has two of the top three smartphone makers allegedly looking to increase domestic capabilities at the expense of imports, and Huawei is quickly building an ecosystem that is set to compete with Android and iOS to create a third global operating system for the industry .
With each passing month, the Huawei ecosystem penetrated further into Google’s territory. We now have several mapping options to replace Google Maps, for example. And now, viewed critically, we also have a search alternative. This is starting to feel more like real. Yes, Huawei has few apps and a global developer network, but it saves money for its community and it knows that consumers worldwide want the prescription for premium smartphones for less money – a prescription that is now being replicated by these other Chinese OEMs.
Ironically, even now, Huawei is threatened by the growth of its domestic rivals. It has built a dominant blacklisted market share in China – Google is banned and losing it had no effect. However, last quarter, Huawei shipments declined for the first time in six years, down around 18% year over year.
That wasn’t surprising. Huawei’s domestic market share will drop sharply if the sanctions on chipsets are not eased in the next year anyway. Market analyst Canalys points out, “If the US government’s position does not change, Huawei will try to change its business strategy to focus on building the company [Harmony] Operating system and software ecosystem as the Chinese government seeks to promote indigenous alternatives to global platforms. ”
And it is this last point that is so critical. As I mentioned earlier, the legacy of Trump’s blacklist on Huawei will inevitably change in the global smartphone industry. The risk has always been that the US will lose its lockdown on global standards and stapling software, which is maintained by the dominance of Google and Apple. Suddenly it looks seriously threatened.
“The world is looking forward to a new open system,” said Guo Ping, chairman of Huawei, a few weeks ago. “And since Huawei made Android a success, why not make our own system successful? It is plausible to have two systems in one world. And Huawei will be able to survive and take the lead even in an extremely hostile environment. ”
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