Linux losing ground to Android TV and Huawei in pay TV and OTT

huawei logo at mwc 19
As for smart TVs and connected TV devices, Linux integration is also set to decline as LG’s webOS, Samsung’s Tizen and Roku’s platform make room for Android and Huawei’s HarmonyOS. (Huawei)

Linux-based proprietary set-top boxes are steadily losing market control as Android TV and Huawei’s HarmonyOS software integration are projected to dominate across set top boxes, smart TVs and connected TVs, a new study from Rethink Research found.

Globally, Linux set-top boxes are forecasted to have their market share decrease from 85% in 2020 to 48% in 2026. This huge depreciation can be partly attributed to the rapid decline of pay TV households.

According to the study, pay TV households will decline from 921 million in 2020 to 680 million in 2026. This translates to a worldwide decline in the annual shipment of operator set-top boxes by 57.8 million, and a decline in the install base by 385.5 million. Despite this, Android TV will grow from 5% in 2020 of the installed set-top base to 23% in 2026. HarmonyOS and RDK, notably, will also see exponential growth with approximately 100 million installed bases.

As for smart TVs and connected TV devices, Linux integration is also set to decline as LG’s webOS, Samsung’s Tizen and Roku’s platform make room for Android and Huawei’s HarmonyOS.

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Android TV is forecasted to reach 25% share of smart TVs and CTVs by 2026 which translates to 236 million of a total 905 million devices, closing the gap between its Linux competitor and coming closer to market control.

But Android TV’s victory may not last, the study points out. 

In the long run, Huawei’s HarmonyOS may come out on top, despite tensions between China and the U.S.

Huawei has been under intense scrutiny since 2012 when the U.S. Intelligence Committee published concerns that the global, Chinese-based telecommunications company may pose a national security threat, citing Chinese military support and equipment that could be used to spy on foreign companies.

Huawei has repeatedly denied these allegations but was still banned in the U.S. under the former President Trump; the order has not been repealed by the Biden Administration. Other western countries, including the U.K., Sweden and India have removed Huawei equipment.

While these disputes have made a clear negative impact on Huawei - the chairman Eric Xu citing “difficult” times ahead in 2020 - the study cites that China is likely to rid themselves of Android altogether for fear of losing software updates.

This means China is on the search for a major independent national OS for itself and neutral markets across the Asia Pacific and Latin America — and right now, Huawei’s HarmonyOS is the frontrunner.