Can a third operating system survive today's smartphone world?

Can a third operating system survive today's smartphone world?
The ordeal that Huawei is currently going through with being added to the dreaded "entity list" and barred from doing business with Google (among others) got us thinking. OK, Android is an open source operating system that anyone can download and use in the form of AOSP. But if you want your product to have any hope, you'd better help you can get Google's framework on it.

Why? Because this gives you the Play Store with its access to — you know — actual apps. Not to mention that some push notifications and a ton of updates are tightly linked to the Google framework.

So, since Apple's iOS is exclusive to iPhones, and Android is only useful if you get Google's blessing, we wondered... Does the world need a 3rd smartphone operating system? Can one survive? Even if it gets released today, it will still take tons of time for developers to build apps for it. From essential ones, to games, to digital banking and payment apps, or companion apps for your accessories like cameras or fitness trackers.

We've seen companies try to make their own software before — Samsung tried with Bada and then with Tizen, there was Palm's webOS, and many others which didn't really manage to lift off. More notably, Microsoft had its Windows Mobile platform (renamed a few times during its existence), which only made it to grabbing 3% of the market and it was all downhill from there. And it serves as a pretty good example of how a lack of developers and apps on your app store can spell out a disaster.

But what do you think? Does a new operating system stand any chance if it comes up now?

Can a third operating system survive if it comes out now?

No chance... iOS and Android have the market cornered
It's possible... maybe not very probable.
Yep, now's the time for someone to shake things up a little!



1. AngelicusMaximus

Posts: 699; Member since: Dec 20, 2017

Never say never, but it would very difficult right now in the market.

12. TheOracle1

Posts: 2287; Member since: May 04, 2015

Can someone please explain why apps sideloaded from reliable sites like APK Pure or F-droid can't be used on the new Huawei OS? It's going to be compatible with Android so WhatsApp, FB, Instagram etc should work. I sideloaded GAPPS to a Chinese version Mix2 and a P20 and everything was fine. Am I missing something here? Obviously Huawei can't do that but I see no reason why apps wouldn't work.

16. sgodsell

Posts: 7373; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

First of all I would hardly call sideloaded apps from other sites reliable. There is no security or checks in place for those other app sites. Second if Huawei or any other OEM is caught selling a smartphone with any of play store apps that are only on Google's play store. Then they will be shutdown. Unless the app owners gave their explicit permission for their app to be on another app store.

19. TheOracle1

Posts: 2287; Member since: May 04, 2015

F-droid is safer than the Playstore as they only allow apps where the source code is available and they vet everything. So you're wrong there. APK Pure and APK Mirror have virtually every app that's on the Playstore so why haven't they they been shut down? What's to stop Huawei from integrating the APK Pure app into their phones as their own Playstore?

25. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2377; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

To back up what Valdomero is saying: you are someone that browses phone websites and understands smartphone technology. The average person does not have the same level of knowledge as you, so unless Huawei put some kind of instruction manual in with their phones that say "go here for apps" it's useless.

31. TheOracle1

Posts: 2287; Member since: May 04, 2015

I understand your argument but it's flawed. Do Apple and Google do that for the Apple Store and Play store? No. People know where to get apps. My question is more technical. Is there anything technically or software wise stopping Huawei in terms of compatibility with API's etc?

37. Valdomero

Posts: 678; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

The only thing that Huawei has to look for is for alternative apps/solutions that Google offers. That, and the update cycle of their apps has to be on point to match what Google does. Beside from that... well is up to the user to decide either go full Huawei or use Google-licensed Android phones, something which many people are comfy with. So, answering to your question about the API's, well no, since their OS will be Android-based, so compatibility with Google-licensed apps should be no issue. It has to, because if not, no developer would want to convert their code to Huawei's without a great incentive.

42. TheOracle1

Posts: 2287; Member since: May 04, 2015

I thought so and they're already in talks with Aptoide.

17. Valdomero

Posts: 678; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

The thing is the ease for the final user, you can do it because you know what you're doing, but ask a regular joe or jane to sideload an APK from a website just to be able to watch Youtube... they'll struggle. That's why it's important for Huawei's operating system to be as user-friendly as Android and iOS (to some extent) and also offer ease to download apps. Most of us are spoiled on how well both mayor OS developed during the years that getting a half-baked OS will surely translate into its demise. Look what happened to Ubuntu, Amazon, Blackberry and Windows when they tried to take some of the market pie? they were both great alternatives but unfortunately had no developer support. I'm not saying Huawei can't stand a chance, they just have to be very very good at planning their following steps.

20. TheOracle1

Posts: 2287; Member since: May 04, 2015

As I said in comment 19, use the APK Pure app as the Huawei playstore.

2. tyger11

Posts: 291; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

Definitely possible, but only in a market like China - huge and controlled by the government. This will actually hurry Qualcomm the most. Snapdragon alternatives will wind up with a monopoly in the Chinese market.

7. User123456789

Posts: 924; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Snapdragon, Mediatek, A and Exynos all use ARM base. No where to run.

15. tyger11

Posts: 291; Member since: Oct 29, 2012

They will just copy ARM and not pay ARM any money. This is China were taking about.

26. bucknassty

Posts: 1345; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

look at the population size of China! cut them off and you have a significant amount of people needing an operating system

3. Hollowmost

Posts: 421; Member since: Oct 10, 2017

chinese andoid market share account 70%. So a third OS can even leapfrog android.

8. User123456789

Posts: 924; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Yeah .... All clients of Huawei, Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, Zte, OnePlus etc out of China without any of Google apps, no Microsoft apps, no whatsapp, FB, Instagram, many of famous games ... Microsoft failed poorly with mobile windows.

4. afrohoxha

Posts: 254; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

It doesn't have to do with Android apps ( any OS can have support to run them)...It has more to do with not getting access to Google Play Services. Existing smartphone users ( Android users) are mostly tied to a google account for essential smartphone services and that's a very big hurdle to overcome by any company.

5. oldskool50

Posts: 1571; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

Please name an essential Google service that no other OEM provides? What you said was a joke. Google Doc - can be replace with Office Mobile. GMAIL - Outlook Email Play Store - Devs can host apps outside of Google Play store and can host them on their own site or someone else store. Google Music - Spotify, Soundcloud, MixCloud Google Movie - Netflix, Hulu, Roku Google Drive - OneDrive, DropBox, Mega Google maps - Nokia Here Google Translate - There are a slew of translators Google's services are not required to use Android. Even Amazon host apps for a while. Amazon only failed because, well they are in the US where we all have access to Google services, so thus Amazon wasn't a real source or better alternative. But in a country cut off from google Services, other companies can now open their doors to host the same APK's from devs who want to make a winfall of case. I'm already looking into setting up a hosting service where devs will be able ot make their apps available to China easily and I'm gonna be one to make plenty of cash. People who don't understand technology and think Google is the be all end all are completely stupid.

9. User123456789

Posts: 924; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

How many of them come from american devs? Do you think they will be allowed to make versions for a pan-chinese OS? Matebooks are already being removed from Microsoft stores.

23. oldskool50

Posts: 1571; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

You're dumb. developers already have the tools to make any application be available in any language. All an American dev has to do is, hire a staff of peopel who speak Chinese, to help develop the language part, so that the info appears accurately in the apps. The software itself, already has tools to do this, they simply have to be fine tune. have you ever even visited a Chinese app store? Obviously you haven't. You obviously don't make apps, so it is pointless to explain it too you. The Chinese when it comes to apps, they are not looking for quality; they are looking for what works. Why you think most of the country is still using Windows XP and 7? When they know they won't get security updates? BECAUSE IT STILL WORKS

22. TBomb

Posts: 1503; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

You make some valid points - there are alternatives to most, if no all, Google services. However, I think you downplay the level of simplicity there is with having Google Services for everything vs a bunch of different companies that don't directly work with each other. Very few people will WANT to switch to a third OS just because they hate Google. If they did, they would have gone to iOS already. And as history has shown, a small amount of people switch OS's - especially everyday consumers. If Huawei were to make a third OS, it wouldn't be available in any place that has already banned Huawei (I believe you listed some of the countries in a different article "Puppet New Zealand" or something was one of them). Market is then lost in those places. Thirdly, if Huawei makes a third OS, governments can just make it illegal to conduct business with companies that do business with Huawei's app store. That would completely ruin your idea and you hosting service would not be able to host any Devs that want to be available in the US or other countries that have banned Huawei.

24. oldskool50

Posts: 1571; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

I am not down-paying anything. an alternative is an alternative. And the fact is Microsoft's services are far and away better than Google. In fact many of Google's own services and even Apple's are on Microsoft Aure and other platforms. Even Google Email for years was riding on Microsoft's Exchange platform. Come on dude. Here is what you don't get. When you have to drop Google services, then you have to put money into the alternatives. Once the alternatives get more money, they they will be equal or better. Apple when they first came out relied solely on Yahoo at first, and then Google, until they could build some of their own. Even though Apple Maps is good, is nothign compared to Google maps. But once Apple pours the money and time to actually make it better, it can most certainly be on par. The problem is, Appel has the money, but they ahve always been terrible at software, so they will never be on par with Google. But Microsoft is all sofwtare and thus their services are equal or better in many cases. The problem with China is now they have to make their own options a sthey can't use US companies. However, that doesn't mean Chinese companies can't hire old tech guys from Apple, Google, Microsoft and others to help them make better stuff. China is a very industrious country bruh. You knopw why? Because there is no Gov't politics. That is the one great thing about Communism. You know why Chine and japsn leads in highspeed rail/ Because they don';t have that beaucratic BS we have here. if Chine wants to build a trainthrough your backyard, there is NOTHING you can do about it. In the US, if they want to build a rail through your yard, they need to pay you and get your permission. if not, then they have to build around you or not at all. why? because of bureaucratic BS. This may slow Huawei down, but they aren't dead yet. Look at China's smartphoen market. Huawei is where they are with basiclsly no US help for the most part other than buyign US parts. They have the parts now. They can easily reverse engineer anything they have purchased and continue to use it, and the Chinese Gov't can protect them rom any US litigation. And there is nothign US Gov't can do about it. Look how many iPhone rips there are in China. Why pay $1000 for an iPhone, when you can by a GooPhone for 4200 that looks just like it.he fact GooPhone doesn't use Apple' app store, hasn't stop them from making a iPhone knock-off every year....HAS IT!!!! Other Chinese OEM's like OPPS already have a skin. All they need is a platform for it to ride on. Samsung has an option called Bada that they can sell to Huawei. Even though Samsung chips are based on ARM, I am sure Samsung can make chips that are not. When you consider how Asian countries liek China and Japen have literally risen from the ashes like a Phoenix, even after the US dropped bombs on them, shows that yes you can slow them down, but you can't stop them.

30. TBomb

Posts: 1503; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I believe I am hearing and understanding what you are saying here (please correct me if I misunderstand), but I disagree. It seems like we're on the same page about the services and China needed to build their own. However, I do not think that old tech guys from Google, Apple, MSFT, and others would want to go help China build them better stuff. Helping a country you have been told/taught is not on your team and have growing tensions with is a pretty big hurdle many would have to conquer. Yes, the lack of political BS is part of the reason why they have great highspeed rail infrastructure in China, but there is also more to it than that. Without getting into it very deep, the invention of the car and the freedom that owning a car brings and the idea of freedom that America was born on also plays a huge factor into it. I will link to a resource if you are interested in it. I don't have numbers to cite, but i'd imagine the GooPhone has lower marketshare in China than the iPhone. since GooPhone does not show up in any marketshare analyses I've ever read. We also can't really discuss this portion of the topic because it assumes that they reverse engineer everything which is a big reason why China has the reputation problem that it currently has. You seem to be perfectly content with them reverse engineering and using IP without consent so we have an ethics-based difference here that no PhoneArena article/comments section would ever be able to solve. A country rising from the ashes after a bomb was dropped is different than a company coming back from being banned in several countries. Foreign aid applies to Japan coming back after WW2 - not so much for a company. A country coming back also has a lot of other pieces that go into it, it's population being educated to work overseas and send money back home, the natural resources a country has growing/living within it's borders and the ability to trade those resources with others to build an economy, etc. - a company does not. A Huawei employee can (but why would they?) go work for another company and then invest it's earnings in Huawei, but again, why would they? A Japanese citizen after WW2 could have gone to Russia (example, since it's close geographically) to work and any savings be sent home to support their family and rebuild. i'm not calling you dumb or stupid or anything of the sorts. I am just saying, it is A LOT more complicated than just setting up some Huawei services to compete with Google and then just ride off into the sunset smoothly. Only time will tell though.

33. Carlitos

Posts: 669; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

Your ranting too much and have completely missed the point it seems

34. TBomb

Posts: 1503; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

@Carlitos (#33) not sure who you are referring to here

36. Carlitos

Posts: 669; Member since: Oct 23, 2011

To you specifically. A lot of us agree with you in some ways. But chill it with the essays brother

38. TBomb

Posts: 1503; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

respect the feedback. I'm just trying to defend the points I was making and Oldskool wasn't being very receptive. Thanks for the opinion though

29. afrohoxha

Posts: 254; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

If you wouldn't write essays on every damn comment I would've take your reply seriously...Anyway you don't understand what investing in an ecosystem means ( especially on multiple services of that ecosystem). Just because there are alternatives doesn't mean people are gonna jump easely from one ecosystem to another

6. whatev

Posts: 2273; Member since: Oct 28, 2015


10. Arthurhkt

Posts: 723; Member since: Apr 19, 2012

Well, certainly, we already got a KaiOS, which is quite success on Asia, especially third world market, India was a huge hit though, although it was mainly due to give away from telco and.... It wasn't really "smart". However in term of "mobile" os, well Windows 10 are consider a "mobile os" for their Surface line tablet, so was Tizen was the smartwatch line. BUT smartphone OS? Well, not impossible but quite difficult, probably pretty niche, Samsung, Microsoft, BlackBerry and Amazon are quite a big name, but they couldn't gain a momentum in mobile space due to lack of apps support, that's the is the key for their success, which all of them are lacking. But I do want a new OS in the market though, kinda boring with iOS, Android, Windows and Tizen now.

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