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Huawei "Hongmeng" Smartphone OS Will Struggle

by Neil Mawston | Jun 14, 2019

Various reports this week suggest Huawei is on the verge of launching commercially its own proprietary smartphone operating system, called "Hongmeng" in China or "Ark" in Europe, for low-end, midrange or sub-premium models, during Sep-Oct 2019.

Other reports claim a Russian fork of Sailfish will be in the frame.

Whichever route is chosen, it is clear that Huawei is fishing around for OS alternatives to Android.

Will Hongmeng, Ark or Sailfish takeoff?

In the premium-tier, no.

In the entry-tier, maybe.

For premium smartphones, consumers expect a rich ecosystem of sophisticated apps. Without popular Google GMS, Facebook and others pre-installed, Huawei devices will just be an empty shell. Hongmeng or Ark could be Android-compatible, and it may be possible to post-install major apps (like Facebook), but Western consumers are "lazy" and the number of active post-installers will no doubt be tiny.

For entry smartphones, consumers are less fussy. Basic apps, like mail, can work just fine. KaiOS has led the way here. If Huawei can deliver its Hongmeng smartphones at ultra-low prices, with simple apps, it may see reasonable traction at home in China and China-friendly countries (like Russia).

Of course, the industry has been here before. Many times! Samsung tried for years to beat Android with Bada and Tizen, but failed spectacularly. Bada and Tizen flopped in all price-bands. The past signs for Huawei are not good.

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