Huawei Looks To AI-Driven HarmonyOS For Smartphone ‘Comeback’

Chinese tech giant Huawei has said it sees its latest HarmonyOS mobile software and its integrated generative AI driving revived sales of the firm’s high-end smartphones, even as it faces continued shortages of key parts due to US sanctions.

The company on Friday launched HarmonyOS 4, a mobile operating system created in response to US sanctions that cut off its access to Android.

Since the initial launch of HarmonyOS the company has been forced to sell off its Honor smartphone brand and has seen its handset market share plummet.

But Huawei returned to the top-five list of smartphone makers in China in the second half, according to IDC, after stabilising its supply chain and resuming more frequent product launches.

Huawei consumer chief Richard Yu introduces HarmonyOS 4 in August 2023. Image credit: Huawei

Handset ‘comeback’

“Huawei’s flagship smartphones are making a comeback,” said Huawei consumer business group chief Richard Yu at the firm’s annual developer conference in Dongguan, southern Guangdong province, on Friday.

Huawei said it has integrated its Pangu generative AI into HarmonyOS 4 to provide ChatGPT-like services such as automated messaging and image creation.

The software can also help users create personalised interface options, Huawei said.

Yu said HarmonyOS now drives more than 700 million devices, ranging from smartphones to watches to cars and TVs, and has a developer base of more than 2.2 million.

Image credit: Huawei

Stable market share

Huawei’s smartphone market share on the Chinese mainland grew 58 percent year-on-year to 11.3 percent in the second quarter of 2023, as it shipped 14.3 million handsets in the first half, according to Counterpoint Research.

The company has not been able to launch a 5G handset since late 2020, but is expected to resume 5G device releases later this year after receiving a new provision of chips from domestic suppliers, according to a Reuters report last month citing research firms.

The US administration is reportedly considering tougher sanctions that would make it even more difficult for Chinese firms such as Huawei to gain access to the latest processors or chipmaking technologies.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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