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Demystifying Huawei’s “Songhu Battle”: Thousands of engineers gather to water Hongmeng ecology



In early October 2019, in the fifth month after the limited cooperation with Google, more than 2,000 engineers from all over the world were “called” to gather in Huawei’s Dongguan Songshan Lake Park to provide support for Google Mobile Services (GMS). Emergency “tire repair” for the gap. This technical tackling meeting, which was later called the “Battle of Songhu”, was considered to be the most challenging internal resource cooperation with the highest specifications, the largest number of participants, and the most challenging internal resource cooperation since Huawei was founded. It was also regarded as Huawei’s construction of a mobile application ecological platform. Milestones.

“We have fought countless battles since the establishment of Huawei, but to be honest, we fought this (ecological) battle. From the beginning of the fight, no one thought with certainty that it could be won. Because so many companies want to build an ecosystem, in fact, They are all coming back from feathers. Whether Huawei can do it in ecology, everyone is actually drumming.” Zhang Pingan, president of Huawei’s consumer business cloud service, told China Business News reporters in an interview. Now looking back, those who participated in the battle. As soon as my colleagues heard about the “Battle of Songhu”, their tears were about to come down. Huawei people are like this.

Zhang Pingan’s other identity is the leader of the HMS (Huawei Mobile Service) Core development team in the Songhu Battle, and the highest helm of this battle is Huawei’s rotating chairman Xu Zhijun. In a few months, thousands of engineers put down their original work and aimed their energy towards an exit: to build an ecosystem that does not depend on others, which includes both HMS mobile application ecosystem services and Hongmeng operating system (Hongmeng OS) and other important content. In Huawei’s view, the construction and development of the HMS ecosystem is a necessary condition for the restoration of overseas sales of smart terminals, and it is also the basis for the success of Hongmeng OS.

Entering 2020, the sanctions imposed by the United States will not be reduced. 450 days after the loss of “Google”, the various agreements signed between Huawei and it will expire at the end of the year. Huawei no longer has “illusions” and the timing for “spare tires” to become positive Has matured.

On September 10, still in Songshan Lake Park, Huawei Consumer Business CEO Yu Chengdong officially announced in the keynote session of Huawei Developers Conference 2020 (Together) that Huawei’s smartphones will be fully upgraded in 2021 to support Hongmeng 2.0 operating system. He also announced several seemingly inconspicuous data: the open capabilities of HMS Core 5.0 increased from 14 Kits last year to 56 Kits, and the number of APIs (application programming interfaces) jumped from 885 to 12,981. At present, the world has More than 96,000 applications integrate HMS Core.

Although 96,000 are still far away from the GMS’s close to 3 million applications, it is worth noting that this is only a question that Huawei has handed in less than a year.

“No one can extinguish the starry sky. Every developer is a spark that Huawei wants to gather.” Yu Chengdong said that it is very difficult to build an ecosystem, but the current development speed has exceeded expectations, with 1.8 million developers With support, the world’s third largest mobile application ecosystem is emerging.

Demystifying Huawei's "Songhu Battle": Thousands of engineers gather to water Hongmeng ecology 1

“Force out” Hongmeng Upgrade 2.0

According to the reporter’s understanding, Huawei began planning its own operating system “Hongmeng” in 2012, but it was not for mobile phone use at first, but to enter the Internet of Things market, such as autonomous driving and industrial automation, because it can achieve precise control of time delay. Below five milliseconds, even reaching the millisecond to sub-millisecond level. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei said in an interview before that Huawei hopes to continue to use the global public and open mobile operating system and ecosystem, but if the United States restricts its use, Huawei will also develop its own operating system.

However, the difficulty of operating systems and ecosystems is no less difficult than breakthroughs in high-end chips. Since its debut last year, Huawei has actually kept a low profile on the topic of Hongmeng system, especially in the mobile phone business.

A reporter from China Business News learned from people familiar with the matter that this is because on the one hand, Hongmeng still needs to “evolve.” Although Hongmeng announced version 1.0 last year, it was mainly used in Huawei’s own products, so that it caused ridicule. It is an operating system on a “PPT”. Huawei needs time to “work in one go” to get the operating system up and running. In addition, the number of mobile ecosystems of HMS developers is also in its infancy, and it will take time for the outside world to understand Huawei’s determination.

On the other hand, Huawei still hopes to resume cooperation with Google. Moreover, since the MADA (Mobile Application Distribution Agreement) and other agreements signed between Huawei and Google have not yet expired, Huawei still has some mobile phones equipped with GMS that have not been sold through overseas channels. If Hongmeng is forced to be installed on mobile phones, the relationship between the two parties will be Will destroy.

“If the agreement is not over, we cannot violate the obligations stipulated in the contract and must fulfill it.” Wang Chenglu, president of Huawei’s software department, told a reporter from China Business News.

Wang Chenglu said that in the past, domestic software developers were like assemblers, and all the technology, production lines and devices came from others. The current restrictions in the United States have given the domestic operating system an opportunity to take root, and it has also brought an opportunity for innovation to the industry.

He said frankly that after the release of Hongmeng 1.0 last year, Huawei has received a lot of feedback, and it is not just a simple technology to build an ecosystem and an operating system. “There is no programming framework, no compiler… If there is no tool, ours is not an ecosystem at all. These core components together constitute the system software and ecology. Only with these roots can we grow amazing based on this root Only by application can our ecology succeed. In such a special historical period, Hongmeng has taken the first step.”

Therefore, at this developer conference, Hongmeng brought “distributed soft bus, distributed data management, distributed security, etc.” functions in version 2.0, and released an adaptive UX (user experience) framework to allow development People can directly contact tens of millions of devices and users.

“Next, Hongmeng OS will be officially open source, and developers will get simulators, SDK (software development kit) and IDE (integrated development environment) tools. At the end of 2020, the beta version of Hongmeng OS for smartphones will be released to domestic developers first. “Yu Chengdong said.

Demystifying Huawei's "Songhu Battle": Thousands of engineers gather to water Hongmeng ecology 2

Different tracks from Android but eventually collides with Google

At this developer conference, Yu Chengdong announced the open source roadmap of Hongmeng OS: “From September 10, Hongmeng OS will be open sourced for 128KB-128MB terminal devices such as large screens, watches, and cars. It will be open sourced in April 2021. Memory 128MB-4GB terminal equipment is open source, and after October 2021, it will be open source for all devices above 4GB.”

Although regarded by the outside as a substitute for the Android system, Hongmeng’s ambitions are clearly in a larger area, not just mobile phones.

It is reported that Hongmeng OS 2.0 already supports third-party equipment, and this is a key step for Huawei to build the Hongmeng ecosystem: southward open source for hardware manufacturers, northward development for application manufacturers to make innovations.

According to a reporter from China Business News, Midea, Joyoung and other companies are about to release home appliances equipped with Hongmeng OS. Currently, there are more than 20 product categories and a total of 12 million third-party products that support the Hongmeng system.

Yang Haisong, vice president of software development for Huawei’s consumer BG, said at a media communication meeting that within one year, the installed capacity of Huawei’s own equipment equipped with Harmony system exceeded 100 million, and the installed capacity of third-party equipment equipped with Harmony was also More than 100 million units. In other words, Huawei hopes to achieve 200 million Hongmeng OS devices by 2021.

Wang Chenglu said that in the past, Huawei contributed many innovative ideas to the entire Android ecosystem, including Huawei’s scheduling, file system, and UI (user interface) gesture navigation, but Hongmeng and Android are not on the same track.

To put it simply, Android is a mobile phone operating system, while Hongmeng can run on mobile phones, TVs, watches, cars, smart homes, lamps and other terminals.

The reason for achieving multi-terminal control, Wang Chenglu cited an example of “movable type printing”: Hongmeng system is decoupled into tens of thousands of modules, each module is equivalent to a single word pattern, these modules can be arranged and combined according to needs, Hongmeng system also It can be big or small, it can form a large system and enter complex equipment, or it can form a small system and run on simple equipment. For developers, Hongmeng yOS gives applications a chance to break away from the limitations of single-phone hardware, paving the way for a new round of innovation.

In addition, compared to Android, Hongmeng is still a lighter choice. “The system to install Android requires at least 1G of memory, and Hongmeng only needs 128KB of memory at the minimum. Android requires 4 core CPUs, and Hongmeng is enough.” This makes the cost of Hongmeng equipment lower. For the same device, Hongmeng may cost half or more than Android.

However, in the Internet of Things and in-vehicle operating systems targeted by Hongmeng, many giants including Google are also stepping up their layout. Prior to this, Google launched its own Fuchsia system. At the same time, Google also launched Android Automotive OS for cars based on Android.

Questions about Hongmeng and the future

The ecological road has a long way to go. Google’s Android is not only a system, but also an order. This platform already has many developers and is a global platform ecology. Establishing an ecosystem and breaking through a monopoly position is not an easy task. Hongmeng OS needs time to grow and train more developers. Whoever holds the developer holds the user and the market.

Under the Battle of Songhu, Huawei’s HMS is growing steadily, but Wang Yanmin, president of the Global Ecological Development Department of Huawei’s Consumer Business, told reporters that the challenges of ecological construction are manifold.

“Where do millions of applications worldwide start? Which API has the most calling capabilities, and which is the developer’s pain point? You can’t throw the team away and cut all in.” Wang Yanmin said that the team must not only analyze, but also It is necessary to communicate with developers, so there are a lot of interviews so that we can find the right direction and make good use of the limited R&D resources. Otherwise, it may not be enough to invest tens of thousands of R&D engineers. It is a chaotic battle, so this is the first challenge.

In his view, the second challenge is how to fully allow developers to “write a few lines of code and press a key” to embed Huawei’s HMS Core into his code.

In addition, how can consumers accept the use of Huawei’s platforms and applications in a short time? How to make the head application cooperate with Huawei? Another big problem is that low-frequency, just-needed products in some subdivisions also need to gnaw hard bones.

In addition, for ecology, the most difficult thing is not technology but profit distribution. “Benefit distribution is more challenging than technology. At present, Huawei is still exploring.” Wang Chenglu told reporters.

Wang Huiwen, the co-founder and senior vice president of Meituan, stated in the Songhu Dialogue that Hongmeng Ecosystem is not simply “concentrating power to do big things”, but to bring all participants in different links under the positive output of commercial interests. Mobilize.

In addition, the most critical question is, how long is there for Hongmeng mobile phones?

Mo Jia, an analyst at Canalys, a market research organization, told China Business News that according to the latest statistics, 24% of Huawei’s overseas mobile phone shipments in the second quarter of 2020 were HMS, which was 4% from the previous quarter. There has been a great improvement, but during the same period, Huawei’s overseas shipments fell sharply by 27% year-on-year and 17% month-on-month. For example, in the Western European market, which Huawei attaches great importance to, Huawei lost more than a quarter of its shipments in a single quarter compared to last year.

Demystifying Huawei's "Songhu Battle": Thousands of engineers gather to water Hongmeng ecology 3

“In the context of not being able to carry GMS, Huawei still launched a lot of new phones, but it also faces the risk of being surpassed by Xiaomi in the third quarter. You know, Xiaomi surpassed it in Europe for the first time in the second quarter. Huawei.” Jia Mo said.

Currently, many mobile phone manufacturers including Samsung, Apple and OPPO are adjusting their supply chain orders. Taking OPPO as an example, it has confirmed that it will add an order to the supply chain to 110 million units. Compared with the sales volume of more than 50 million units in the first half of the year, OPPO expects that the second half of the year will nearly double the chain.

From a long-term perspective, whether it is the replacement of chips or the accelerated iteration of operating systems and mobile application software, it is a difficult battle. After a new round of US bans take effect after September 15, what Huawei needs to face is a more cruel market environment.