Published on January 8th, 2017 | by Bhavishya Kanjhan0
Huawei and its ambitions in the smartphone space
In the recent years, the smartphone hardware category has had two dominant characteristics. One that Apple and Samsung have led the iOS and Android systems respectively and second that the flagship phones have been pricey devices, in excess of AED 2,500. Other established manufacturers such as Sony, HTC, and LG as well as newer ones such as OPPO and Xiaomi have been competing for the lower ranks mostly.
It would be easy to place Huawei in the same category. The Chinese company has been a giant in the telecommunications infrastructure space but hasn’t enjoyed the same status in the smartphone space. However, that status is exactly what Huawei is aiming for. More importantly, Huawei is aiming to change those two characteristics in the coming year by becoming a dominant player in the Android ecosystem and making flagship devices available at a much lower price. Huawei and its sub-brand Honor both has a significant presence at CES this year. Honor announced and launched the new Honor 6X at CES while Huawei CEO Richard Yu presented a keynote.
Huawei announced that it will finally launch a smartphone in the US under its brand name. Huawei’s flagship Mate 9 will be available on Amazon.com, NewEgg, and a few other online retailers for $600 starting this week. Up until now, only the Honor branded smartphones were available in the US.
Huawei and Honor have been putting out impressive devices over the last few years. The flagship Mate 9 is a power-horse of a device and the newly announced Honor 6X is an absolute steal given its capabilities and price point of AED 919. However, Huawei’s plan involves building partnerships with the leading technology companies of the world.
Mate 9, meet Alexa.
Huawei has partnered with Amazon to make the Mate 9 the first smartphone powered by Alexa. You will be able to speak to your Mate 9 the way you speak to your Dot or Echo and complete actions on your device once the app rolls out later this year. This puts Huawei head to head with Apple’s Siri and the Ok Google capabilities found on the Android phones.
Becoming Google friendly.
Don’t think though that by introducing Alexa, Huawei is adverse to Google. On the contrary, Huawei is working closely with Google to make the Mate 9 Pro compatible with the Daydream platform. In fact, Huawei is taking the partnership a step further and will release HuaweiVR, a VR headset specially built for Huawei devices and will feature custom focus controls to eliminate the need to wear glasses while using it.
Huawei is also working on Google on Augmented Reality (AR) and its Project Tango. By building hardware capabilities to enable Motion Tracking and Depth perception, users will be able to ‘augment’ information and visuals to their surroundings.
Executives from both companies were on stage to talk about their partnership with Huawei and this is a show of strength from the Chinese manufacturer.
Becoming a top 2 manufacturer.
Huawei is not shy about its ambitions. CEO Richard Yu explicitly stated Huawei wants to go from a top 3 smartphone company to a top 2 one. It is willing to invest the resources necessary to achieve that status. Huawei has invested over $38 Billion in the last 10 years in Research and Development and has set up research centers in over six countries, including the US and Germany. One of the centers is the Max Berek lab it has set up with Leica, named after the founder of the company.
With their entry into the US, Huawei will definitely start becoming more visible on the global technology scene. The last two years have demonstrated that users don’t need to spend more than AED 2,000 to own a high-end phone. Chinese manufacturers have been leading that change from a hardware point of view, however, in terms of software, they always seem to be lagging behind. Hopefully, with Huawei’s partnerships with Google and Amazon, this can change. The coming years, and 2017 in particular will be very interesting to watch.