[Update: Poll results out] MIUI based on HarmonyOS: A smart strategy or the beginning of the end for Xiaomi?

New updates are being added to the bottom of the story…

Original story (from Nov 01) follows:

In September 2020, a poll was conducted in the official Mi forums asking seasoned fans if they’d want to see Xiaomi move away from Android and become an independent OS.

Although the turnout was not overwhelming, a majority (81.37%) of the voters did express their desire to see a MIUI version that is free from the shackles of Android.

MIUI-based-on-HarmonyOS

But how good a strategy would this be for Xiaomi? Would it be a smart move or spell the beginning of the end for a company that is only getting better on a global scale?

MIUI based on HarmonyOS

The poll results pushed Xiaomi to come out and deny any plans of switching away from Android as the base OS in future MIUI updates.

This, however, was short-lived as a month later, another forum mod came out with yet another interesting poll asking Mi fans how they feel about a MIUI edition based on Huawei’s HarmonyOS.

As the poll went on to reveal, there are some Xiaomi fans who would wish to see MIUI ditch Android in favor of HarmonyOS.

HarmonyOS-HDC2019-Huaweimobile-twitter

Sure, reasons like Google’s privacy concerns and ineffective security updates have been put forward by many of those concerned with the Android ecosystem in general.

The many malicious apps that make it to the Google Play Store and eventually to millions of devices across the globe is also another major concern that Android users have held for years.

Even more interesting is the argument that Android could be holding back the development of not just MIUI, but probably plenty of other third-party skins like EMUI, ColorOS, Funtouch OS or even OxygenOS, among others.

The latter argument is perhaps the most significant here. With Android having matured, the only way to make it better is through minor but useful tweaks here and there, something Google falls short of with every release.

android-11-logo-Inline

But with Android skins like MIUI, the story is almost the exact opposite, where plenty of new features, UI tweaks and optimizations to existing features are usually the order of the day.

Take the latest MIUI 12, for instance. There is evidently more excitement and desire among Xiaomi fans to have MIUI 12 updates compared to Android 10 or even the latest Android 11 updates.

Xiaomi, like other third-party OEMs, finds pride in stuffing all of its cool features in MIUI updates while leaving the barebones Android update less feature-packed. This is the cause for the excitement towards MIUI updates.

But does all this warrant the decision to move away from Android? Well, I don’t think so and here’s why it would be a terrible idea for the company.

Ditching Android should be the last option for Xiaomi

miui harmonyos

Huawei is ditching Android in favor of HarmonyOS because it has no choice, but Xiaomi does. In fact, over the recent past, we’ve seen Xiaomi devices on global and European ROMs ditching Mi apps in favor of Google apps.

This only goes to show how much determined Xiaomi is to capture a bigger Android market outside China and India. With such efforts being made, it doesn’t look like Xiaomi will be moving to HarmonyOS.

While ditching Android likely won’t affect folks in China, users elsewhere will be affected massively. First off, there’s the lack of development from third-party developers, something that is already affecting Huawei.

A new platform will also mean major apps take time to hit the ground. And given that Xiaomi designs devices with Android in mind, it becomes even much harder for the company to do away with AOSP.

MIUI based on Android & HarmonyOS

Imagine all the third-party development of MIUI based on Android coming to a standstill. It would be a potential risk of losing what is already a fine customer base.

On the flip side, Xiaomi can simultaneously produce both Android and HarmonyOS powered devices considering the number of variants they come up with for just a single device.

MIUI is used globally which is why I see no reason for Xiaomi to dump Android in favor of HarmonyOS, a skin that seems more inclined towards the Chinese market than the global scene.

This way, the company can slowly introduce MIUI based on HarmonyOS to the global market based on how good the new change is received in China.

We might all remember the efforts Microsoft put in trying to dethrone Android with Windows Phone but ended up failing terribly. Samsung, the biggest Android vendor, has been trying this for ages with Tizen but all in vain.

Samsung-Tizen
(Source)

The way I see it, Xiaomi is not ready for this battle. Heck, not even Huawei is, but it has no choice. Perhaps the only way Android can be shaken is if Huawei mobilizes other Chinese third-party vendors like Oppo, Vivo, and even Xiaomi to join HarmonyOS at the expense of Android, but that may never happen.

Android is way too big for anyone to go against it. Big-name companies have tried it but all failed at their attempts to disrupt things in the Android world.

But as noted, it is only if multiple OEMs put in combined efforts that HarmonyOS may stand a chance. If it grows big enough for Google to take notice, it may allow it’s apps onto HarmonyOS and therefore HarmonyOS to the rest of the world, that’s the only way I see this happening.

Of course, this is a pretty slim chance. If anything, I honestly don’t see HarmonyOS being a thing outside China anytime soon. Google and Android are just way too big to brush aside.

We’re running a poll on this, and will appreciate if you vote the option you think is the best fit. The results of this poll will be revealed next week.

Update 1 (November 08)

The results of this poll are out. Close to 49% voters say Xiaomi should stick to Android, while around 34% people are of the view that having MIUI based on Harmony OS now makes sense. Rest of the voters chose the option “I don’t care”.

If you missed out on this vote, you can still share your opinion by commenting at the bottom of this page.

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Hillary Keverenge

A techy. Besides phones, I also enjoy the farm, music, football, and, of course, food.