Android is the top operating system in China with iOS second. But according to TechInsights (via SouthChinaMorningPost) there is going to be a major shakeup this year. Thanks to Huawei’s shocking release of the Mate 60 line last year, the first 5G phone produced by the company in three years despite U.S. sanctions, HarmonyOS will grab both Android and iOS users in China and will surpass iOS to become the second most popular platform in the country.
HarmonyOS was developed by Huawei after the company was placed on the U.S. Entity List for security reasons in 2019. That stopped Huawei from being able to work with its U.S. supply chain including Google. A year to the day later, U.S. export rules were changed to prevent foundries using American technology from shipping cutting-edge chips to Huawei without a license.
Before the release of the Mate 60 line, which is powered by the controversial Kirin 9000s 5G chipset, Huawei received licenses allowing it to use 4G versions of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon SoCs to power the P50, Mate 50, and P60 flagship series in 2022 and 2023. It still isn’t totally clear how China’s largest foundry, SMIC was able to manufacture the 7nm Kirin 9000s without the use of extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography machines which are banned in China.
These lithography machines are used to etch circuity patterns on silicon wafers that are thinner than human hair. The school bus-sized machines are necessary to help small chips accommodate billions of transistors; the larger a chip’s transistor count, the more powerful and energy-efficient it is.
The next version of HarmonyOS, aptly named HarmonyOS Next, will not support any Android apps. A developer preview version of HarmonyOS Next is expected to be released in the current quarter and Huawei is already in talks with major companies in China to develop native apps for the next iteration of HarmonyOS. We could see a new version of Alibaba’s mobile payment app Alipay for the platform along with its workplace collaboration app DingTalk.
Other major Chinese firms including e-commerce company JD.com, video gaming leader NetEase, and food delivery firm Meituan, started recruiting developers in November to write native apps for HarmonyOS. One of the first multinational corporations to develop an app for HarmonyOS Next is McDonald’s China with over 5,500 units in the country, more than 200,000 employees, and over 1 billion customers served annually.
More than 700 million devices run HarmonyOS with more than 2.2 million third-party developers writing apps for the platform. That data comes from Richard Yu Chengdong (known by his Americanized name of Richard Yu in the U.S.), who is the CEO of Huawei’s consumer business.
The next flagship series due from Huawei is the photography-based P70 line expected during the first quarter of this year.