Huawei Is “Officially” Shifting Focus on Software as HarmonyOS Release Approaches

By Bill Toulas / May 25, 2021

Reuters has obtained an internal memo sent from the founder of Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, to the staff of the Chinese tech giant, calling them to dare to leap forward despite the massive problems caused to the smartphone maker after the U.S. sanctions that stripped its devices from Google services. Although the company is still trying to find its footing in this new reality, for Zhengfei, it is clear that the new focus should be software.

As he wrote in the memo, for Huawei to develop its own software and operating system will be liberating, setting the stage for greater independence and autonomy. In the long run, this will have a beneficial result for the firm, even if it comes as an emergency solution right now. Zhengfei is attempting to change this mindset and convince Huawei’s software engineers and app developers that this effort is neither short-term nor last-ditch. It is the first step towards a new era for the company, one that could see it become a leader in the smartphone world in a very different sense than before.

On the hardware aspect, Huawei is facing great difficulties, as its access to American chipmakers like Qualcomm has been shut - while its very own HiSilicon fab, which made the powerful “Kirin” SoCs, has also wrapped up operations since last summer due to licensing issues that have to do with chip design tools provided by Synopsys. So, literally, the only thing left for the company today is software, and this is where it needs to push for ground-breaking innovation.

For now, though, they are inevitably playing catch up, and they are lagging behind. Called “HarmonyOS,” the first look at the betas didn’t yield much hope at getting a new OS that would differentiate itself from Android. Not that being similar to it is bad, but the first tests showed something like a de-Googled Android 10 with the HarmonyOS theme slapped on top. That wasn’t very hopeful, but it’s the first version, and we may see something better when it debuts.

Speaking of which, Huawei has teased the release of the new OS giving the date of June 2, 2021, which is next week. According to the company’s previous statements, the plan is to have HarmonyOS installed on 300 million devices by the end of 2021, and that would set it straight to a "respectful entity" status.

As R. Zhengfei stated, the goal is to dominate Asia, Africa, and Europe, and if U.S. standards don’t match theirs, at least each will get to keep their own territory. The founder of Huawei knows how hard this endeavor will be and has even mentioned a plan to hire psychology professionals to help young software developers push forward and stay mentally strong.

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