Chinese netizens have mixed feelings about Huawei’s homegrown HarmonyOS
Patriotism is giving Huawei a boost, but netizens say, “Talk is cheap, show me the code”
Huawei has finally revealed its homegrown operating system dubbed HarmonyOS, or Hongmeng as it’s known in China. For many social media users in the country, the launch is an exciting development that represents the rise of the country as a tech power. But at the same time, many people think the company’s unveiling of the OS raised more questions than it answered.
“Talk is cheap, show me the code,” one Zhihu user posted under a question about the Hongmeng launch.
The user was quoting Linus Torvalds, the creator of the open source Linux operating system. Huawei said at its developer conference that its new OS will be open source, but the company didn’t say when it would make the code public.
Many other users posted similar comments, saying it’s too early to tell how well Hongmeng will work.
“I feel like everything in its press release is probably feasible, but I have a reserved attitude about how good it will actually be,” another user said on Zhihu in a comment with more than 2,400 upvotes. “Jamming all that together is unbelievable. Let’s wait for the open source code.”
Others seem to take issue with Huawei’s delivery at the launch event.
“The technologies are good and the ideas are good. But the presentation of the technologies is less than satisfying,” another person wrote on Zhihu. “Consumers don’t care much about how a technology is achieved. What they really care about is what tangible changes your technology can bring to our lives.”
“In terms of the launch, what was said is so obscure that from the perspective of the average passerby, it wouldn’t be too much to say that it’s bogus speech,” someone else commented. The user also thinks that Huawei is trying to apply avant-garde academic ideas to industry use.
But many people are much more optimistic about the homegrown OS. In a Weibo poll started by a tech blogger, 50.9% of 19,000 users voted that Hongmeng OS is overblown, while a close 49.1% think it’s impressive and worth cheering for.
“I’m optimistic about Huawei’s open source [OS] and Hongmeng’s future development, because there won’t be big problems in the Chinese market,” said one Zhihu user in a post with more than 3,900 upvotes. “Survive and develop, and the ecosystem will only be a matter of time. At the same time, pushing the development of a microkernel is opening a new era.”
One netizen linked the OS to the ongoing tech war with the US, although Huawei has reportedly been working on it for years.
“Android wants to beat up Trump after hearing about this,” one Weibo user said confidently under a People’s Daily post praising Huawei’s Hongmeng. Hongmeng won’t be a direct competitor to Android, though, as it's is designed for broader use on IoT devices.
Others also think that support for Hongmeng is getting a boost from patriotic sentiment.
Li Nan, a former executive at smartphone maker Meizu, said that there’s a dramatic contrast between the wide applause for Hongmeng and the pessimism toward YunOS, an Android-based operating system built by Alibaba in 2011. “They’re divided by nothing more than the confrontation between China and the US.”
(Abacus is a unit of the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba.)