‘Plan B’: Huawei has been building a Play Store alternative to compete with Google
Google's decision to partially cut off Huawei devices from its Android operating system has presented the Chinese tech titan with one of its most dramatic challenges yet: how to keep up with the competition if it cannot use the platform that powers nearly every other smartphone in the world?
It is a possibility for which the Shenzhen-based firm, the world's second-largest smartphone maker by sales, has been preparing for years -- reportedly since 2012 -- by building an operating system of its own.
Bloomberg reported Monday that the embattled Chinese phone maker tempted app makers with the prospect of getting a foothold in its home market, the most populous country in the world, if they would create software for its App Gallery.
Huawei reportedly told the app makers that they'd reach the massive China market, as well as 50 million Europeans who could end up using its app store rather than Google's Play Store (which Huawei's phones use to download apps outside China) by the end of last year.
It even offered the app makers a simple way to make the software they developed for Google's Play Store compatible with the App Gallery, Bloomberg reported.
Huawei ‘loses’ access to Play Store after ... 09:43 AM | 20 May, 2019
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – US tech giant Google has dealt a major blow to Huawei by blocking the top Chinese ...
The danger of depending on Google was highlighted Sunday, when the search giant cut off Huawei phones from future Android updates - meaning Huawei customers outside China would lose access to apps and services like Play Store. Google's decision followed an executive order from President Donald Trump last week that effectively banned Huawei in the US, including its ability to source goods and services from American companies.
Huawei has acknowledged its App Gallery’s existence, but the platform remains shrouded in mystery.
“We have prepared our own operating system. If it should be the case that we can no longer use these systems (like Android)... we would therefore need to be well-armed," Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's Consumer Business Group, told German newspaper Die Welt in an interview published in March.
On Tuesday, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei may have alluded to its App Gallery plan, in comments he reportedly made to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
"The US government's actions at the moment underestimate our capabilities," he said.
US lifts Huawei ban for 90 days 08:05 PM | 21 May, 2019
NEW YORK – The US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has said it will allow some ...
While both Google and Huawei have reassured users that their phones will continue to function as normal, this could present major problems for Huawei, and apps on its phones could become unusable if it does not have access to code licensed by Google to phone makers.
Its own platform, currently undergoing trials, is named "HongMeng" and "will gradually replace the Android system", China's state-owned Global Times said Monday, citing other local media reports without more details.
In developing a possible successor to Android on its devices, Huawei is attempting something other industry behemoths like Microsoft and Samsung have failed to do: create a platform that attracts both users and app developers.
The technical development is just one aspect of the challenge, analysts say. It takes years to build trust and confidence among app makers to write and sell software on the platform, and to convince users to adopt it.
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