<Editor's Pick> Huawei Mobile Service - Huawei launches its alternative to GMS after being blocked last year from working with Google directly

Thanks to the inclusion of Huawei on the US government's entities list, Huawei put forward a series of new plans.

Among them, the system ecology may be the most critical part of Huawei's new plans.

HarmonyOS Project will last ten years. And now for consumer business, the more important part is HMS, which is an alternative to Google services.

Big game

In May last year, Huawei's new handsets no longer have access to Google Mobile Services (GMS) due to the inclusion of Huawei on the US government's entities list. Therefore, Huawei's mobile phones sold in overseas markets will not be able to use Gmail, YouTube, Google Pay, Maps, Cloud disk and other services under the original factory settings.

The missing of GMS has a significant impact on overseas markets, whose most direct response is the sharp decline in overseas sales. And, given that, Huawei launched an alternative plan, that is Huawei Mobile Service (HMS).

HMS has conducted several internal tests in the past. At the Barcelona press conference on February 24, Huawei officially launched Huawei App Gallery and HMS strategy.

According to Huawei, HMS Core has now iterated to version 4.0, and the number of its monthly active users has increased to 530 million in June 2019. During the same period, the number of registered developers on the platform has reached 910,000. The number of apps integrated into the HMS Core system has increased to 43,000. At present, HMS Core is applied to more than 170 countries worldwide.

Huawei even said that its application market has become one of the top three application markets in the world through 9-year operation.

The application market is the entrance to all applications and services, and the foundation of the platform. Developers use the underlying capabilities provided by the platform to develop their applications, and then put them on the store, which are downloaded by consumers, which forms a very mature set of processes. In this way, Huawei puts itself in the same position as Google and Apple.

The benchmarking product of HMS is GMS, which provides developers with the underlying capabilities.

HMS covers multiple parts such as applications, services, and development capabilities, while HMS Apps includes Huawei Cloud, Huawei Smart Assistant, Huawei Application Market, Huawei Wallet, Huawei Skyrim, Huawei Video, Huawei Music, Huawei Reading, Huawei Theme, Life Services and so on.

HMS Core Kit gives developers access to 24 HMS Core kits, 55 services and 997 API, including payment, login, games, push, maps, positioning and more.

In order to promote HMS, Huawei still chooses the way of burning money.

Starting from those countries and regions that are likely to develop their own independent ecology, Yu Chengdong launched a $1 billion "Yaoxing" plan at the press conference. It called on global developers to choose HMS as the underlying development app, which is also a large "Investment Conference" to a certain extent.

In addition, Huawei has previously invested $10 million in Russia to attract local developers (Russia has its own search giant yandex), and also reached partial cooperation with Indian software vendors and Turkish operators.

After Huawei's press conference, Honor immediately followed. It launched Honor V30 Pro and Honor 9X for the European market, with built-in HMS and Huawei App Gallery application stores, which is also Honor's first built-in HMS service phone.

In the short term, what HMS will rescue is the actual performance of Huawei's overseas market. It is imperative to solve some problems caused by the unavailability of some basic GMS capabilities.

And in the long run, HMS also carries Huawei's ecological dream. Huawei's ultimate goal is to achieve the full layout of systems and services just like Google's AOSP + GMS.

In his 2020 New Year's letter, Yu Chengdong proposed that "overseas cloud services take ecology and experience as the core, do not pursue short-term commercial benefits. And it will gradually restore the total amount of overseas business in a few years, while accelerating the construction of HMS Core capabilities and laying a solid ecological foundation."

Looking at it this way, HMS is placed at a fairly high strategic level.

In order to develop HMS, Huawei has established a new secondary department, the Global Ecological Development Department, which belongs to consumer BG. In terms of practical significance and the publicity focus of Huawei, HMS has surpassed HarmonyOS and becomes a top priority for Huawei.

However, GMS is not as simple as Google's own products. In the context of Android being controlled by Google, although AOSP has provided most of the underlying capabilities, some functions still require GMS support, such as data synchronization (mobile phone backup, cloud disk, etc.), information push (GMS can provide unified push similar to iOS) and so on. Actually, some security updates of Google are also pushed by Google Play.

Without the control of Android, HMS certainly does not have a huge impact on the Android experience like GMS. This is also a shortcoming of HMS, which needs to be solved by HarmonyOS.

Google begins to shirk its responsibility

Although GMS has no connection with Huawei on the surface, there are always solutions for some users due to the openness of the Android system. They can still use Google's services by reinstalling the system and installing it by themselves.

Recently, Google has responded to this phenomenon and the banned content. An article published by Tristan Ostrowski, legal director of Android and Google Play, explains some specific details:

First of all, Google said that these Huawei devices (e.g. earlier models launched on or before May 16, 2019 ) can still receive security updates about Google apps and services, which is also a basic after-sales support.

However, new Huawei devices that launched after May 16, 2019 belong to uncertified devices, which are not available to use Google's software. Meanwhile, the security checks on these devices and Google's security software, Play Protect cannot be performed. 

Secondly, regarding Google's own applications, Ostrowski advises users not to try to install Google's software and services on those unauthenticated devices through other means. Because Google cannot guarantee that the applications installed by users are free of malware and other issues.

In other words, for new Huawei devices after the ban, Google does not provide services and follow-up support such as security updates.

If users install GMS through some unofficial means, various problems may occur during the process, and they must bear the risk by themselves. Google shirks its responsibility to users through this way, but it also makes sense, after all, it is an unofficial operation.

Google's attitude seems a bit tough, but after being forced to confess, in fact, it has been affected a lot. After all, there is no major customer like Huawei.

At present, GMS is Google's main way to profit from open source Android. According to the official instructions provided by Google, the GMS license fee for each mobile terminal device is $40. Choosing to fully carry Google's family bucket can exempt the license fee, but this also brings Google Advertising and other income in disguise.

Yu Chengdong thanked Google at the end of the press conference, and said that in the past and in the future, they will work together to build an Android ecosystem. For the relationship between HMS and GMS, Huawei said that a mobile phone can have both HMS and GMS, rather than an alternative relationship.

But HMS is clearly seizing Google's market.

AOSP is open-source and Google can't control it. However, with the launch of HMS, the two are in a very delicate state of competition and cooperation. If the ban lasts longer, after several years of development, maybe Huawei really has the confidence of not using GMS, even if the experience is a little poor.

Another factor that cannot be ignored is that the European Union has always believed that Google has a monopoly on GMS, and that it has been punished several times, whether by a fine or an order for adjustment.

In order to antitrust, the EU has always wanted to support an ecosystem that can check and balance Google. It may be HMS, or an application platform, namely "Global Developer Services Alliance "(GDSA) created by the four Chinese mobile phone manufacturers - Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo.

Industry benefits

HMS carries Huawei's ecological dream, and at the same time, it also enables partners to see opportunities. As we can see, unlike Google's family bucket, Huawei chooses to build a cooperation system.

For example, iFLYTEK's solution is adopted for voice, the map positioning is NavInfo and SuperMap, and the reading partners are technology companies such as iReader. After TWS and GaN, Huawei launched another wave of "HMS concept stocks", and many companies rose due to HMS.

The whole cooperation ecosystem of Huawei is divided into two parts: technology and content. Some provide Huawei with the underlying technical capabilities, and some provide Huawei with content and applications. Huawei's shipments determine that its partners' services can reach a considerable number of users, including a considerable number of overseas users. Some services may be different at home and abroad, such as maps and positioning. The partner of the overseas version is TomTom, the Dutch digital map company, but this is still a visible opportunity.

But it is clear that HMS is still in its infancy, with a promising future. If interpreted from an optimistic perspective, there is still a lot of room for growth.

According to Anxin securities, with the vigorous promotion of HMS in the world, Huawei stores have more than 10 times the growth space, and the companies in the HMS ecosystem will benefit significantly. Therefore, they continue to recommend the industry leaders who have in-depth cooperation with Huawei in various subdivisions: NavInfo, iFLYTEK, Montnets, ThunderSoft, WonderTek, ArcherMind, iReader and other Chinese technology companies.

Minsheng Securities pointed out that Huawei HMS can not only provide huge monthly active users for app developers within the ecosystem, but also help Chinese app enter the global market, which will also improve the profitability of app developers. They suggest investors focus on companies that work closely with Huawei in the areas of development services, application software and information security.

For example, SuperMap is the provider of Huawei's digital platform capability of GIS (Geographic Information System), which is mainly used in scenarios like smart city, smart Park and others.

IFLYTEK signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Huawei in May 2018, and the two sides cooperated in four major areas: public cloud service, ICT infrastructure products, intelligent terminals and office. Starting with Mate 10, Huawei began to use iFLYTEK's voice technology.

IReader provides the main content source for Huawei’s reading application. The UI of the two are almost the same. Huawei's reading account can be bound to iReader's.

Kingsoft once joined the "Huawei cloud Kunpeng Lingyun Partnership Plan" in July 2019, and the cooperation between the two sides mainly focused on WPS.

Once bitten, twice shy. Even after the cooperation relationship is restored, Huawei will realize the importance of holding chances in their own hands whether it is hardware or software after such a toss. And both hardware and software will gradually start to strengthen control, especially the core part of the system ecology.

This is an article from Huxiu, written by Gu Quanjun, translated by Chris Yuan.