Smartphone operating systems is another area where China aims to break US dominance. At the moment, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android power all mobile devices globally. Apple’s ecosystem is closed while Android is open for as long as you don’t run afoul of the US. Enter Huawei’s HarmonyOS. This is in response to US sanctions that blocks their access to Google’s ecosystem of apps and other services.
Breaking the Apple-Google global duopoly, however, still presents a formidable challenge. South China Morning Post reports, “without access to Google, YouTube, Facebook and many other popular apps and services, the OS is unlikely to take off outside China.”
Still, the Chinese have the edge in terms of hardware manufacturing. China has the factories and labor while Taiwan has the chip-producing capacity provided by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Mediatek chips are cheaper than the Qualcomm/Snapdragon combine. As a result, product cycles are less than 12 months now and there is a plethora of China OEM smartphones to choose from. Case in point, 5G-enabled devices made their debut with a price tag of roughly P35,000. Today you can buy a 5G-enabled device for a little under P10,000.
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Huawei has been hit hard by US sanctions. It ceded the number two spot in terms of units sold back to Samsung. Xiaomi has overtaken its dominance in the Chinese market but it continues its focus on research and development. It actually has the edge in 5G network technology which is another reason why the US clamped down on its growing dominance in the industry. It won’t be long now before smartphones achieve the level of scale that it becomes as cheap as the dumbphone running on 2G technology.
The global problem is still connectivity. But make no mistake about it. We’re entering the era of smart everything. Soon you’ll be using your phone to control your appliances and even your car.
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