Huawei’s Android and Windows alternatives are destined for failure

Huawei has received a series of massive hits this week that could stop the global technological ambitions of the company's consumers. At the beginning, it was Google that withdrew the Android license from Huawei, then came the ban from Intel and Qualcomm, and finally the news that ARM had stopped all business with Huawei. Assuming that the executive order that caused these problems is not terminated, Huawei will now have to create its own operating system and processor designs to be able to build smartphones and laptops in the future. Huawei seems to be ready and prepared to at least address the software side, but I think it is doomed to fail outside of China.

Huawei has been calling this a "Plan B" for the past few months, since EE. UU It has been increasingly hostile to the company in the face of current trade restrictions. This plan implies offering an alternative to both Android and Windows that, reportedly, has been in development for years. Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer business, told CNBC this week that the replacement operating system will be ready for the fourth quarter, with a version available outside of China for the second quarter of 2020. [19659003] Android Times The Square Billboard ” data-upload-width=”2040″ src=”https://cdn.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/VqtZrSMlfiZxdLkG7SYxS1Mzr10=/0x0:2040×1360/1200×0/filters:focal(0x0:2040×1360):no_upscale()/cdn.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/2372358/android1_2040.0.jpg”/>

Not much is known about the Huawei Android and Windows alternative, but it seems to be based on the open source version Android (AOSP) and will include the Huawei Apps Gallery store. This is Huawei's alternative to the Google Play Store, and every manufacturer that is not licensed, the Android version of Google has to create its own app store or a package from a variety of fragmented options. Huawei already has experience here, as the company's phones run a bifurcated version of Android without AOSP without the Play Store in China, and Huawei has included the App Gallery on phones outside of China since early 2018.

Outside of China , phones run alternatives to Android and even those who use AOSP have not fared well. Mozilla tested with its Firefox operating system for years before surrendering in 2015, Canonical boosted Ubuntu phones that never got anywhere and Microsoft tried to create a third mobile operating system with Windows Phone. Even Samsung, which was once a big threat to Google's Android version, has almost abandoned its Tizen operating system for phones, using it to power the company's smart watches and TVs.

All these alternatives of operating systems for phones have failed for many different reasons, but the main one is a common thread: competing with Google is very difficult. Participation in the Google search market is estimated at around 90 percent worldwide, with competitors such as Bing, Yahoo, Baidu and Yandex, all with single digits. This participation in the search market has helped Google to create and control a set of applications such as Chrome, Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Docs and many other popular web services.

If you create a phone with the open source version of Android, you will immediately be presented without access to these key Google applications. As a manufacturer, it is creating a device without the applications demanded by consumers in Europe, the United States and elsewhere.


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This is the challenge that Huawei now faces on the phone side. The only companies that have come close to creating a viable Android alternative outside of China are Microsoft or Amazon, and Amazon's attempt is now limited to tablets. Microsoft created Windows Phone and could gain impressive ground in certain European countries, but in general, Android is still absolutely dominant. Microsoft took the approach of licensing its most closed operating system to phone manufacturers for a phone rate, while Android's "free" alternative included its own royalty payments and a large number of customization options for manufacturers. and telephone operators.

Microsoft tried to offer a phone operating system without the support of Google applications and services. Windows Phone users were temporarily disconnected from Google Maps, there was a tough battle for a Windows Phone YouTube application and Google surprised Microsoft by cutting off Exchange ActiveSync support for Gmail for Windows Phone. Google also refused to develop Windows applications, which undermined Microsoft's mobile efforts to compete with Android.

Amazon has had some limited success with its own implementation of Android. The company has created its own Android application store for its Fire tablets, and has managed to convince some application manufacturers to list their popular applications in the store. Facebook, Spotify, Netflix, Skype, HBO Now and others are available, but Google applications, as expected, are not in sight. The Amazon app store is still missing many key applications, and even those that are available are not always updated at the same time as their main Android alternatives. Fortunately, the screen size of the Fire tablet lends itself to using the browser to access Google services more than the smaller screen on phones. Amazon tried to compete with Android with its Fire Phone, but the company suspended it quickly after the bad sales.


  Huawei P30 Pro

Huawei & # 39; s P30 Pro
Photo by Vlad Savov / The Verge

Google also has a tight grip on the definition of a Android device, including the open source version of Android that Huawei will use to compete. Most of the alternatives integrated to applications like search, Gmail, camera, calendar, Chrome and even the keyboard are incredibly basic. Even a number of APIs such as location, games and purchases within the application are proprietary, and third-party application developers use them in their applications. That makes it harder for developers to have to support two different versions of their Android application, not knowing if Amazon, Huawei or anyone else has created replacements that are good enough.

Google has also helped stop the flow of fragmentation and open source bifurcations of Android out of China in the past by grouping their own applications with Play Store access and requiring companies to build phones or tablets that include Play Store for only build phones and tablets that include the Play Store.

Huawei has positioned itself as the second largest phone maker in the world to influence the future of Android, but Samsung had the same five years ago and was forced to return to the line. Google was not impressed with the implementations of Samsung's Samsung software in 2014 and a series of meetings led the two companies to announce a broad cross-licensing agreement for patents and an agreement on the future of Android.


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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Huawei has been preparing for a similar moment for years, and now the trade war between the United States and China has arrived to complicate the company's relationship with Android. However, Huawei is well aware of the challenges. The company has been building a Play Store alternative to the naked eye and, reportedly, last year launched the application creators to create applications for their store with the offer to help them make their way in China and a "very significant" part "of the income of the app store. Bloomberg reports that Huawei even claimed that it would have 50 million European users of its app store by the end of 2018.

The plans and discussions of the Huawei store occur at a crucial time for Android in Europe. Google could finally face competition after a European Commission lawsuit imposed a fine on the company for Android's antitrust violations. Regulators claim that Google abused its dominance of the Android market by grouping its search engine and Chrome apps on Android, preventing phone makers from creating devices that run bifurcated versions of Android and making payments to phone makers and operators. network to group the Google search application into phones.

As a result, Google will start charging a fee to Android device manufacturers for using their applications in Europe. This could open the door to rival app stores, a more competitive Android landscape and inevitable fragmentation. The most likely outcome is that manufacturers will simply continue to bundle Google applications and services, as it will allow them to avoid those fees. After all, there are still no popular alternatives to YouTube, Google Maps or Google Search, and consumers in Europe will reject phones that do not have access to these applications. Phone manufacturers also do not want to keep different versions of Android for Europe, China, the US. UU And other places.


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Huawei MateBook X Pro Laptop
Photo by James Bareham / The Verge

More on the Windows side, Microsoft has maintained its dominance in desktop computing for more than two decades using the same types of grouping tactics that Google. The US regulators UU They were grilled by Microsoft on their Internet Explorer package on Windows, and EU regulators also got involved a few years later. Eventually, the EU forced the company to include a browser ticket with non-Microsoft browsers in an effort to improve competition.

Microsoft was also accused of illegally packaging its Windows Media Player with Windows, and the EU forced it to unbundle the application so that competitors can get a fair playing field. Microsoft created a special version of Windows for Europe without the application, but almost no manufacturer shipped machines with this version.

There have been several forms of competition for the Windows domain, including Macs, Linux-based netbooks, or even Google's Chrome operating system. Only mobile operating systems have managed to shake Microsoft's dominance of computing in general, but Windows is still widely used by companies around the world. Google's Chrome OS seems the most viable alternative for the masses, thanks to the support of Google and its popular web services.

Many companies still depend on Windows for the compatibility of their applications and for running applications and systems that are not only based on the web. This has prevented Microsoft from moving forward with some of its own efforts of portable computers based on ARM, simplified versions of Windows and even more restricted.

The Huawei Plan B operating system would have to compete against Windows 10 and Chrome OS in a market controlled by Lenovo, HP, Apple, Dell, Acer and others. These companies have much more experience in the manufacture and shipping of PCs, and already have a reliable brand recognition. We have seen how Android laptops arrive and disappear over the years, and it seems that Huawei is on a similar path. If building an Android alternative for phones seems like a challenge, the Huawei Windows alternative could be even harder to achieve in a market where it has less influence.

Huawei now faces many difficult decisions that are largely beyond its control. None of this software matters if the company does not have the chips it needs. That is a thorny problem that Huawei has not shown any indication of being able to overcome. The situations of ARM, Intel and Qualcomm are much more dangerous for Huawei, but even without them, trying to compete with Google and Microsoft's dominant operating systems seems an insurmountable challenge for a company better known for its hardware outside China that advances of software. 19659034]

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