I’ve said this, in various circles and in different conversations, after the entire U.S-China/Google-HUAWEI drama began: there might come a time when HUAWEI might no longer need Google.
Ladies and gentlemen, I think we’re getting closer and closer to that happening. If not this year, probably in 2022. The Chinese company is slowly but surely paving the way for its independence, but more importantly, survival.
In May 2019, the Chinese company has been added to the dreaded Entity List and former President Trump banned the company through an executive order.
Some would argue that the problems started way back in 2012 when the U.S. imposed a ban on companies from using HUAWEI networking hardware and equipment. According to others, the mobile side of the business might have gotten involved with the occasion of the 2018 CES in Las Vegas.
Remember when we all expected Richard Yu to go on stage and announce the Mate 10 Pro’s availability in the U.S. Well, AT&T pulled out at the last minute so HUAWEI turned to Verizon just to get the same treatment. Congressional pressure was cited as a possible, but unofficial, reason for the move.
Whether the new Administration will overturn the ban is yet unknown, but, just in case it does, it might be too late. HUAWEI might no longer need Google (among other key technologies like software, hardware, patents, etc.) and the U.S. would likely be the one ending up with the shorter end of the stick.
The HUAWEI Ecosystem
What happens when a rich and smart tech company faces roadblocks? It turns all of its focus and efforts towards surpassing them while getting better and better while at it. I believe that to be the case with HUAWEI too.
Sure, there were some dents in finances and the image of the company (not as big as one might have expected) but the Chinese tech giant got to work (and spending).
The first step to building its own (alternative) ecosystem was laying down the foundation. No longer having access to Google Mobile Services (GMS), HUAWEI placed HMS at the core of its EMUI (Android-based) operating system.
Then it went in big with investments to the core components, as well as adding titles to a store (AppGallery) which was most useful for Chinese users who didn’t have access to Google, to begin with.
The recent numbers the company shared, specifically on the growth of the ecosystem, are nothing but accolades.
The Google replacements
With access lost to Google and its services, the company started building its own alternatives. No GMS? Here’s HMS. No Google search? Enter Petal search (which was repurposed to a full-fledged search engine from the initial search engine for apps only). No Google Maps? We’ve got Petal Maps. See a (Petal) pattern here?
HUAWEI is basically building its own ecosystem as an alternative to Google, one that’s not only built, but controlled by the company itself.
Most recently, news broke of a certain Petal Mail, which, if we follow the pattern above, will likely be an alternative to Gmail. All that’s left from the list above is a solution for YouTube (but I described how HUAWEI currently approaches it with its Quick Apps in my recent Mate 40 Pro review).
…and when it’s time to pull the plug on Android and go all-in with HarmonyOS, that’s when the buzzer sounds.
At the end of the day, HUAWEI has not much to lose at this point, but anything to gain. If and when it pulls the plug completely, it will have had created an independent ecosystem that could be the third-largest on day one, after Google’s and Apple’s.
Why? Because even though it recently got dethroned in China, HUAWEI sells an insane amount of phones worldwide every year. We’re talking north of 200 million for the third-largest smartphone manufacturer in the world. With a flick of a switch (a firmware update), it could convert all the existing phones into HarmonyOS devices with AppGallery as its distribution platform and services under the Petal umbrella.
With control over its own ecosystem (complete with an operating system, app distribution, and development, as well as services), HUAWEI could reinvent itself as a “self-sustainable” smartphone manufacturer that’s independent of core/key/crucial third-party components, along the lines of Apple.
Where do you see HUAWEI? Is it the right thing to do? Will it succeed? Let’s talk about it in the comments.
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