Why international mobile app and game developers should consider HarmonyOS and OpenHarmony, among other future players, next year

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Apple’s controversial “Core Technologies Fee” is pissing off developers in the EU and around the globe. It’s basically a middle finger by Apple in reaction to EU Digital Market enforcement with increasing pressure of similar measures by FTC in it’s home country, United States to open up their iOS platform. In the new terms for the EU market, users installing an app now costs the devs €0.50. For an app with 8 million installs, it’s over $310k (€285,541 and £244,032) a year in fees, even if the app is free. On top of that, Apple is using dirty schemes with their APIs on 17.4 version of cutting around the EU Digital Markets law, market rules by designating their operating systems SKUs of Darwin core operating system separately, where rules don’t apply to iPadOS, the tablet operating system for iPads.

Expanded Perspective

Apple is giving the middle finger to Epic Games, who want to release their Epic Games Store on iOS devices. Let me explain: If 2 million people install Fortnite on iOS through the Epic Games Store, it actually requires 4 million installs because you have to first install the Epic Games Store itself. Apple charges 50 cents for every app install over the 1 million download threshold, INCLUDING installs of the third-party app store itself. This means that if 2 million people installed the free game Fortnite, Apple would charge Epic Games $1.5 million in fees for those 3 million installs over the 1M threshold. (50 cents each) Epic Games better hope they make more than $1.5 million in revenue in-app purchases from those 2 million users who download Fortnite, or they’re negative. That’s not even accounting for what Epic Games has to pay their own developers, staff and expenses, so in reality, they would have to make MUCH more from in-app purchases to make it even worth the effort. In short: Epic Games will have an easier and likely more profitable time just sucking it up and accepting the new lower 17% commissions instead of creating their own Epic Games Store in the first place. In short x2: Apple ultimately wins, again.. for now.

Why, HarmonyOS? Since Huawei has been banned from Android GMS, there is neither hope nor market for Huawei’s comeback.

Not entirely true; Huawei’s comeback strategy has clout, in terms of brand value, awareness, and fanbase support globally, in Huawei’s current survival standing as a smartphone vendor compared to previous players like Microsoft/Nokia and Blackberry in the past that have all disappeared, still within the top 10 smartphone OEMs globally, in 9th place under post-Android transitioning, post-GMS ban, and it’s HarmonyOS platform already has 3% of global market share while holding the smartphone market niche title for Top 3 in the premium smartphone market segment since 2022 globally. Also, their services compete with those of Apple and Google under the Petal brand and Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), an alternative to Google’s GMS. Chinese market manufacturers are in a frenzy hiring HarmonyOS developers to write apps for it’s app distribution store, AppGallery which will be the heart and centre of pure HarmonyOS reboot in China, Q4 2024 with 5,000 apps launch. Massive explosion of developers and apps that will last longer than previous attempts by Huawei’s afterthought under Android Open Source Project with upper-level HMS APIs being the “GMS replacement”. HarmonyOS will become more than an “Android replacement” and more of a standalone, viable platform of it’s own in the mobile market, recognised by the software industry segments of the IoT, mobile, and potentially desktop industries.

What does Apple charge developers in comparison to Huawei with their AppGallery for HarmonyOS apps?

According to 9to5Mac, iOS apps in the EU can now accept alternative terms with commission set at 17%, plus 3% if apps are using Apple’s In-App Purchase system. This is a significant cut from the old 30% rate 1. However, there is also a new Core Technology Fee for ‘high volume apps’, which applies per install. The CTF charges €0.50 per annual install, for apps that are popular enough to shift more than one million units per year. The CTF is charged per customer account for the first install in a 12-month period. Any repeated installs in the same year have no additional charge 1.

In comparison, according to my research and contacts, Huawei’s HarmonyOS AppGallery has a commission of 20%, which is 10% less than the App Store on Apple iOS outside the EU, 30% traditionally, now reduced to 27% by 3% off, and allows third-party payment methods unlike Apple’s App Store. Only commission-paid apps, not including paid content, plus it does not charge developers for free apps, unlike Apple. It’s IDE, SDK and Testing tools are all free to download and use on your Macbook or your Windows laptop, no “Huawei tax” a year, it’s developer portal where you can publish your apps, AppGallery Connect is also free to sign up as a developer or as a company/organisation, no “Huawei tax” either on that either.

The issue of closed-source distribution. Apple’s method is foul compared to Microsoft and Huawei

I may hate Microsoft ways with Windows and may not like the nature of the closed distribution walled garden Huawei is doing on pure HarmonyOS under HarmonyOS NEXT where there may be no sideloading for HarmonyOS apps (except desktop side) nor rooting overall (since it’s not an Android), but there are things that both Microsoft and Huawei would not do, like this “Core Technology Fee” crap, which is an insult to developers outside the US in places like the EU. Being stingy on sideloading is fine, but to do this backhanded crap with a slapped tax on top of taxes on developers is vile—a bridge too far. Making way for alienation, abandonment, and possibly boycotting of Apple’s iOS wall garden platform, destroying their phone ecology and their future smartphone market prospects.

HarmonyOS next can’t sideload, only AppGallery allowed to install apps.

.app/.hap packages only for AppGallery. Can’t click to install.

Moreover, there is no root permission within its own system kernel, making the system mechanism more secure.

No jailbreak like iOS, no corporate signature, no Testflight, no Cydia, no Troll store Store, no Altstore.

HarmonyOS Next is more closed than iOS.

Attempting to crack HarmonyOS based on vulnerabilities in China is considered a crime. The crime of damaging computer systems in the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China. Unlike jailbreaking iOS, it is legal in the United States. – Tech enthusiast from China

Unlike Apple, Huawei is always on their best behaviour even under scrutiny and would always comply with and follow rules and guidelines set by EU, and other global standards when met with EU’s “Gatekeeper” notification under Digital Markets Law when it has enough large EU market base until then, want to mess around really, get OpenHarmony developer kits, developer devices, development boards, it’s the way to go with open environment and it’s open source. That’s what OpenHarmony is for and exist. Allows Huawei to speed up it’s development and carve out it’s own ecosystem, planet for themselves while allowing others to create their own planets under OpenHarmony galaxy. Vendors to developers, After Huawei success after Q4 2024, many Chinese OEMs will jump ship to OpenHarmony to sign deals with Huawei to allow their AppGallery and HMS into their handsets as well as making their own ecosystem, app stores on OpenHarmony like Huawei has done on HarmonyOS by 2025. Tens of billions of devices beyond small pie of HarmonyOS bubble of near 1 billion, 1-2,3 billion etc. Unlike Apple and Western multinationals, particularly those from US who think they are the law and order, they set standards over these regions, nations, etc. arrogantly.

Think about it, when Apple did the most backhanded “solution” to EU and customers alongside developers mainly, who want to go outside of the App Store with their stupid fees called the “Core Technologies Fee”. Then the rules are not being adhere to, they’re not being followed. Huawei future proofed their strategy and their operating systems. As a result, Huawei can come around and say we have an open source distribution, OpenHarmony on the phone side that allows multi-vendors to create third party stores and sideload alongside porting open source libraries and developing apps under open source SDK under the same DevEco Studio IDE with no fees needed and we don’t influence, we don’t control the OS, we don’t add HMS, we don’t add AppGallery to OpenHarmony side by force, it’s up to vendors that want to work with Huawei and get access to Huawei’s HMS AppGallery ecosystem for their vendor devices, at the same time, Huawei has no say and control over those multivendors with sideloaded apps, third party stores with it, their own ecosystem apps etc. And that can hold legal weight in response to the EU when Huawei is faced with “Gatekeeper” list in the future.

Huawei’s goal is to take at least 16% of the overall market share (outside mobile market share that is not mentioned) for it’s own HarmonyOS, not to dominate over the rest. OpenHarmony can do that for them head to head with Android, Windows etc. without Huawei’s direct input.

That does not designate Huawei’s intention to monopoly status. Huawei’s goal post-US ban in software is to eventually uproot the current Duopoly in the long term, in the future. Remember, the acquisition of Activision from Microsoft, 3rd place in the gaming market and it’s revenue secured them successfully to buy the company. Hence, dual OS distribution source approach, is simply the best of both worlds between closed and open source for it’s needs and consumer needs.

What if you could have an Apple-like platform without “Apple taxes”.

Huawei wants to create their app economy, rightfully so, after an ecosystem that have been yanked from, a multi-billion dollar industry with the GMS APIs controlled by Google, US next to another multi billion dollar industry rival of Apple’s App Store that allowed Huawei to conquer the Android market successfully in a competitive space with other OEMs like Samsung into the top 3 OEMs and among one of the world’s largest at that time among Apple and Samsung, 2018-2020. Huawei’s incoming strategy with HarmonyOS NEXT is to ensure higher software quality, reduction of app piracy on paid apps and security compared to it’s Android counterpart with AppGallery today on EMUI and current HarmonyOS with AOSP base as part of their global market comeback. Swift-like ArkTS and Cangjie programming languages without the “Apple”-style tax are an attractive alternative to the platform.

Oniro OS is a pan-European OpenHarmony distro established in 2021 led by Eclipse Foundation in cooperation with OpenAtom consortium. Huawei are one of the members. https://docs.oniroproject.org/upstream.html

Huawei has done a lot for open source community in general with contributions to AOSP, an alternative EROFS read only file system contribution to Linux. Also, it’s platinum memberships in the The Open GroupLinux FoundationRust Foundation etc. and OpenAtom today including it’s open source openEuler, EulerOS and OpenHarmony efforts in the past three years, with Eclipse Foundation working with Huawei on pan-European OpenHarmony distro, Oniro OS connecting ecosystems, apps, and software ecosystems. Even more than Microsoft, they have been open in the past under AOSP during GMS ban and they even promote the grey area, GBox and VMOS Chinese developers to YouTube influencers that does Huawei tutorials to product reviews of Huawei products outside official Huawei corporate promotions. Does Huawei get flack for locked bootloaders, yes rightfully so in criticism. At the end, they are not giving the middle finger to developers.

In comparison, Apple has no excuse as a trillion-dollar multinational. Apple haven’t done jack for the open source community other than “open sourcing Darwin” with obstacles LMAO and “open sourcing Swift” their programming language for the open source community. Their record shows they haven’t done jack in terms of openness. Apple is full of poo, and I am glad blind fucks are waking up to it, beyond their expensive marketing PR. Android is no better on Google’s blocking side of blocking GMS to Android handsets that are not “verified” under them, E.g. Huawei handsets, under bullshit US entity ban, sanctions etc. Forcing Huawei to create it’s ecosystem fortress of it’s own to insulate legality BS.

The path of where Apple is going will lead to their own destruction with their iPhones on iOS using the “Unity Tax” strategy that have destroyed the leadership of the company that led to loss of developer trust in it’s outcome. With this path, that Apple is taking, would result into severe long term losses in not only the Chinese market but also global markets, including the EU, parts of the western world outside the US in a world that is increasingly digitally balkanised, led between China and the United States, where developers and consumers may decide to put an end to Apple’s 16-17 year reign in the mobile space, paving away for strong competitve players, as new contenders pop up such as OpenHarmony and HarmonyOS, including, Vivo BlueOS, Xiaomi HyperOS developments in the future, alongside, the flooded Android market monopolised by Chinese OEMs with Samsung and Google partnership countering Apple, where a market could decide Apple’s fate in a lucrative and one of the most influential market of 27 countries for their products under EU’s Digital Markets Law. We all know that without the App Store, which began in the summer of July 2008, there would be no longevity of success with iPhones on the market today. This is not over; this is just the beginning of the end.