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Harmony OS and Compatibility (commonsware.com)
38 points by ingve 4 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 33 comments

> Simply making an operating system open source is insufficient on its own to guarantee success. If it were, Ubuntu Phone and Firefox OS would be significant players. Unfortunately, neither “crossed the chasm”, in part due to lack of manufacturer and carrier support.

Actually FirefoxOS pretty much has "crossed the chasm". It's just that that happened after Mozilla abandoned it and KaiOS took it over. They've shipped 100M units. https://techcrunch.com/2019/05/22/kaios-raises-50m-more-hits... Weird that a mobile-focused developer site would miss this.

It's true that Huawei open-sourcing HarmonyOS is no guarantee of success, but that's a bit obvious.

HarmonyOS is launching in China first. In China, you only need to have a few apps on your phone to make it worth buying, because those few apps let you do EVERYTHING. WeChat, AliPay, etc. WeChat even has its own mini-app ecosystem because of this type of usage preference.

Because of these consumer demographics of how they use their apps and what kind of apps they prefer, I don't think it's inconceivable that they can get a big initial customer base in China. In a country of a billion-plus people who also wouldn't mind supporting a home team company, that would be enough to keep HarmonyOS sustainably alive.

Need a thriving app ecosystem? You think they can't convince a number of Chinese app developers to develop for HarmonyOS? Especially the big app developers if the government asks for it?

Yes, there are questions whether HarmonyOS can become an internationally prevalent OS. But that's just a larger definition of success. I would not be surprised to see HarmonyOS become huge in China by itself, at least on par with iOS in terms of Chinese market share, if not better. And if that happens, I cannot see how I would consider HarmonyOS not a success.

Earlier in the same article, they quote "Huawei will need to solve the biggest hole in the adoption of Harmony OS: the app ecosystem".

I think that's part of what they're talking about when they say these others never crossed the chasm.

And, yes, KaiOS has crossed the chasm, but I don't see:

- that being open source helped with carrier deals and hence adoption, or

- that they've solved the app ecosystem issue

Having official apps for WhatsApp, FB, GMaps, Youtube, Google Voice Assistant, Twitter helps a lot with the ecosystem part.

Nokia is apparently working on Android for feature phones, regardless of their partnership with KaiOS.


I am not a mobile developer nor am I a web developer but can't Huawei base their apps on web apps?

That would mean they could port any web app from IOS or android to Harmony OS as long as there are no native bindings as react native has. Eventually they can incorporate webassembly when that really gets of the ground.

Wouldn't be very battery (or other resource) friendly.

Android and iPhone app stores are already saturated. The app store for HarmonyOS isn't. This could be a good opportunity for new mobile app developers.

The same thing has been told referring to the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace though

This OS, if it’s anh good, should at least have the Chinese market locked up though. Which is a few hundred million users.

If it’s good, and Huawei follows up on making it truly open source, I suspect every Chinese manufacturer would at least have a line of Harmony OS phones, because they could always be the next trade war target.

And once the Chinese manufacturers are supporting it, you can also add a huge chunk of the South and South East Asian markets as your customer base as well, since a lot of users in those areas basically just buy the latest Xiaomi or Huawei phones.

and BB10 Marketplace

> This could be a good opportunity for new mobile app developers.

Chicken and egg problem.

New devs need users to buy their apps to justify developing for a new platform. The new platform needs a wealth of apps (especially common apps) to get users.

except china’s communist party can pay for the egg and the chicken and solve the pb, without any concern for profit. The issue in that case is more political than economical, so different rules apply.

Of all the efforts at an alternative mobile OS so far, Harmony OS seems to have the best chances of success, because it is backed up by the Chinese state and its pervasive surveillance apparatus. With government help and full integration into the total surveillance of all Chinese citizens, they can get their share of the Chinese market and break the application barrier.

As if Google and Apple don't have to obey the wishes of FBI, CIA, NSA,... regarding "making the world safer".

Remember when the FBI tried to get Apple to cooperate in opening the phones of the San Bernadino attackers, and Apple wouldn't?

The equivalent situation simply would not and has not happened in China. Instead Tencent and other vendors explicitly run mass surveillance and censorship on behalf of the Chinese government.

The situation in the USA isn't perfect but it's far better than the situation in China. It really bothers me when people fail to make the distinction. And I'm not even American.

The US doesn't have a citizen score, political re-education camps, Tiananmen Square massacre, widespread censorship (like disconnecting a phone when you say a certain word), filtering of all foreign content and blocking of sites like Wikipedia or New York Times, BBC News, massive displacements and forced re-settlements, a vast number of political prisoners, massive squelching of protests and demonstrations (right now, there are videos of large troop movements towards Hong Kong), and so on. Not to speak of Tibet...

Anyway, my point was not primarily meant political, it was more that Huawei has good chances of succeeding with this OS, because they are backed up and supported by the Chinese government. That's true even if you are 100% pro Chinese one-party government.

You mean like Guantanamo?

Or the ones managed by CIA outside American borders to do it more cleanly?

Guantanamo is bad, no question. But there's a chasm between holding 800 foreign nationals (and, from time to time, traitorous Americans) and rounding up millions of ethnic minorities for re-education based on their race, religion, or politics. If you looked up false equivalence in the dictionary, this would be Exhibit A.

Moving the goalposts isn't helpful; let's skip to the end. I'm no believer in American Exceptionalism. I've read A People's History, I'm pretty familiar with the crisis of mass incarceration and the general failure of our criminal justice system, I'm well-informed about widespread domestic surveillance and espionage programs, and I'm deeply cynical about US foreign policy as a whole.

But even someone like me has to admit that the US is closer to a free state than China. Here's why I think that:

- Our court system is constantly in the throes of "freedom" vs. "tyranny" (lots of judges disagree with Citizens United, for example.

- We have a free press that is constantly critical of our president and government.

- I can be critical of our president and government with absolutely no repercussions from my government.

- We give billions in foreign aid.

- We still accept tons of asylum and immigration applications - In fact many of our cities are "sanctuary cities" for immigrants

- We celebrate the history of Americans who have fought for fundamental freedoms and civil rights

- We are the most diverse nation on the planet, and many of us are intensely proud of it.

- We have free elections.

  - Don't @ me about election problems; they're still nothing like the fraudulent elections in Russia/China/etc.
- We have healthy opposition parties.

- We actually believe the US is a work in progress, not "perfect as it is" (see: "a more perfect union").

Sure there's a lot of work to do. And I'm sympathetic to the fact that China and Russia face different challenges than we do. But I absolutely refuse to accept the assertion that the US is anywhere near the same point on the authoritarian spectrum as they are. Such comparisons are facile, ignorant, and reinforce a nihilistic vision of Western, classically liberal values that is at the root of the rise of nationalism and authoritarianism -- which is itself responsible for the destruction of many millions of lives across the world. These things are not the same, any more than Democrats and Republicans are the same. One is clearly better than the other, and it is literally a matter of life and death that we figure that out.

That usually doesn't involve building "re-education" camps [1], blocking sites like this one because the mention of the word "tiananmen" and "square".

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xinjiang_re-education_camps

Is Guantanamo already closed?

If only Huawei devices will use it, it's doomed. I've said it before and got downvoted, but here's the truth again: Android's app ecosystem is what makes it popular, followed by the huge number of manufacturers using it.

Microsoft failure with Windows Phone was partly because even after incentivizing developers, they still could not get a critical mass of apps on their platform. Plus any new apps were not getting WP versions along with Android/iOS.

Huawei is huge, but not outside China, for consumers. Couple that with everyone being wary of their spyware and whatnot. Samsung tried this at some point with Tizen, but quickly gave up, as well.

> Microsoft failure with Windows Phone was partly because even after incentivizing developers, they still could not get a critical mass of apps on their platform. Plus any new apps were not getting WP versions along with Android/iOS.

My thoughts exactly. For the Chinese market everything might work out just fine, as the article says. But for the west, as soon as one or two killer apps won't get ported, it's game over. I think Google never did for Windows phone, which probably did play an important role (among the many other mistakes made. Microsoft didn't exactly make it easy to jump into app development, probably due to arrogance.)

If harmony doesn't get YouTube, Facebook, Spotify or Snapchat, it doesn't matter how great the OS is under the hood.

Other than YouTube, all the other apps have a vested interest in seeing a new competitor to Google controlled Android.

If Harmony OS is a decent and open OS, I suspect they will all jump onto it.

The only concern may be Google apps, but then, it’s possible that Google may also create Harmony OS supported apps so they can access the Chinese market.

That's a good point, but it's also a hen and egg problem. If the platform isn't that widespread you might be hesitant to support it. (assuming it's not actually super easy to port over Android apps as suggested).

While Windows phone definitely was a very different platform from both IOS and Android, it was still amazing how shoddy some major players' apps ran on it. Stability, performance and features were often lacking. The tools, documentation and lack of sample code was definitely to blame, but even then you still need to learn a new platform.

App developers have already trouble "jumping" onto the latest version of the one or two mobile platforms they support, I doubt there would be much enthusiasm to add another one to the bunch.

Indie developers often support only one platform because any more than that is practically infeasible with a small team (n<3) to do if you have a modicum of respect for your clients.

You've missed Amazon out here, who have a vested interest in keeping the non-Google controlled Android competitor they have as the only one.

Every other app also has competition, bugs and features to keep them busy with their iOS and Android apps

It's not that Google never supported Windows Phone. They actively harmed the platform by heavily restricting 3rd party apps.

Just to clarify because I didn’t get it at first read

they mean restricting an unofficial say YouTube app

Various note, Todo, photo and video apps, banking apps, Imgur, Reddit, Dropbox and others, Outlook/Gmail, eBay. Besides the big ones, there's so many smaller ones that will not be available.

Why get a Huawei when there's Sony, Samsung, LG, and more with the same hardware (still amazed at the A50 - previous gen top end specs at a third of the price) and the familiar and useful software. IIRC Huawei isn't even that friendly to custom ROMs nowadays, even Sony has a free unlock program.

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