China’s Huawei see Europe as stepping stone in Samsung/Apple rivalry

Huawei the world’s No.3 smartphone maker, will use the launch of a new flagship phone in Paris on Tuesday to make fresh gains in Europe. (REUTERS)
Updated 27 March 2018
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China’s Huawei see Europe as stepping stone in Samsung/Apple rivalry

PARIS/LONDON: Huawei the world’s No.3 smartphone maker, will use the launch of a new flagship phone in Paris on Tuesday to make fresh gains in Europe, a region where it has made strides against rivals Samsung Electronics and Apple.
With camera-rich features and starting prices that analysts expect to be aggressive, the P20 series represent Huawei’s fresh attempt to compete head-to-head with Samsung’s Galaxy S9 and the iPhone X in the increasingly look-alike market for smartphones.
The P20 premium version, P20 Pro, comes with a triple camera and sensors that offer top-notch image definition among existing smartphones, Huawei said, in a clear response to camera upgrades for the Galaxy S9 unveiled in Barcelona last month.
The region is a lynchpin of the Chinese company’s ambition eventually to become the world’s No.2 phone supplier. Europe has been insulated from some of the intense competitive pressures Huawei faces from domestic rivals in its home market.
“The challenge for Huawei is to strengthen its brand personality and to steal more market share in Europe, given its absence from the US market,” said Thomas Husson, a consumer devices analyst at research firm Forrester.
“In this regard, the choice of Paris to launch a new flagship smartphone is quite new and interesting.”
Shipments to Europe grew more than 50 percent in the first half of 2017, Huawei has said. In two big smartphone markets – Italy and Spain – Huawei now ships more phones than Samsung or Apple, according to market research firm Counterpoint.
Huawei commanded 23 percent of the Italian market in the fourth quarter, for example.
Across Western Europe Huawei’s market share has risen in recent years to 12 percent, Counterpoint Research estimates.
Huawei’s weakest European markets are Britain, with 5 percent share and France, where it ships 6 percent of the smartphones sold here, but it is seeking to build its presence.
Still, it has begun to face more competition in Europe from a resurgent Nokia phones, run by HMD Global, and Chinese rival Xiaomi (IPO-XMGP.HK), Counterpoint analyst Peter Richardson said.
The market share gains on the continent have helped Huawei offset the company’s exclusion from the world’s most profitable market for phone sellers, the United States.
Targeting Huawei, the chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission said last week it planned to take “proactive steps” to ensure the integrity of the country’s communications supply chain.


Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

Updated 19 September 2019

Huawei in public test as it unveils sanction-hit phone

  • Hit by US sanctions, Huawei's Mate 30 will not be allowed to use Google’s Play Store
  • Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
BERLIN: Chinese tech giant Huawei launches its latest high-end smartphone in Munich on Thursday, the first that could be void of popular Google apps because of US sanctions.
Observers are asking whether a phone without the Silicon Valley software that users have come to depend on can succeed, or whether Huawei will have found a way for buyers to install popular apps despite the constraints.
The company has maintained a veil of secrecy over its plans, set to be dropped at a 1200 GMT press conference revealing the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro models.
Huawei, targeted directly by the United States as part of a broader trade conflict with Beijing, was added to a “blacklist” in Washington in May.
Since then, it has been illegal for American firms to do business with the Chinese firm, suspected of espionage by President Donald Trump and his administration.
As a result, the new Mate will run on a freely available version of Android, the world’s most-used phone operating system that is owned by the search engine heavyweight.
While Mate 30 owners will experience little difference in the use of the system, the lack of Google’s Play Store — which provides access to hundreds of thousands of third-party apps and games as well as films, books and music — could hobble them.
Household-name services like WhatsApp, Instagram and Google Maps will be unavailable.
The tech press reports that this yawning gap in functionality has left some sellers reluctant to stock the new phones, fearing a wave of rapid-fire returns from dissatisfied customers.
Huawei president Richard Yu said at Berlin’s IFA electronics fair this month that his engineers found a “very simple” way to install the hottest apps without going via the Play Store.
Huawei could offer its own app store in a preliminary version, setting itself up as a competitor to the dominant Apple and Google offerings, observers speculate.
Over the longer term, the company could build out a similar “ecosystem” of devices, apps and services as the Silicon Valley companies that would bind users more closely to it.
The world’s second-largest smartphone maker after Samsung, Huawei earlier this month presented its proprietary operating system HarmonyOS, a potential replacement for Android.
The Mate 30 will not yet have HarmonyOS installed.
But it could make for a new round in the decades-old “OS wars” between Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s Mac OS, then Android versus Apple’s iOS.
Meanwhile, Eric Xu, current holder of Huawei’s rotating chief executive chair, has urged Europe to foster an alternative to Google and Apple.
That could provide an opening for Huawei to build up Europe’s market of 500 million well-off consumers as a stronghold against American rivals.
“If Europe had its own ecosystem for smart devices, Huawei would use it... that would resolve the problem of European digital dependency” on the United States, Xu told German business daily Handelsblatt.
He added that his company would be prepared to invest in developing such joint European-Chinese projects.