Huawei has been hit hard by the US China trade ware sanctions. So it’s not surprising that at Huawei’s Developer Conference (HDC) we’re seeing a new direction in terms of consumer tech. The only part I don’t approve of is that they didn’t show us a new Smartphone. Not because the world needs another smartphone, but to show off what we’re missing out on.
Huawei was able to over take Samsung last quarter in terms of Smartphone sales. But that was thanks to corona wreaking havoc on Samsung’s major markets and China’s economy not being hit as hard by the virus. 70% of Huawei’s smartphones are sold in China and when asked to comment on the move to the top:
“Our business has demonstrated exceptional resilience in these difficult times,” Huawei said in a statement to The Verge. “Amidst a period of unprecedented global economic slowdown and challenges, we’ve continued to grow and further our leadership position by providing innovative products and experience to consumers.”
What we saw at HDC wasn’t a new Smartphone but a line up of products that are looking to dominate in multiple consumer device verticals. Huawei launched: Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro, Huawei Watch Fit, Huawei Freebuds Pro and several Matebooks.
The watch Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro directly competes with Garmin and Polar. The headphones Huawei Freebuds Pro rival Apple’s Airpods, but are not closed into a single ecosystem and are the best deal on the market when you look at price vs quality. Huawei is using the same approach they used to dominate in the smartphone market: Best in class features that highlight their ability to build premium hardware that shows off useful software.
Huawei is showing their ability to innovate and dominate other product categories. Premium quality with AI built in wherever it can be useful. The watch Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro is made of titanium has offline maps and the ability to track 100+ activities. There is even AI built in that helps improve your golf swing. The headphones have a feature similar to OIS (optical image stabilization) that you would find on your Smartphone camera, which keeps the sound solid when running.
That we didn’t see a new Smartphone at HDC is a sign that Huawei has lost the global Smartphone battle. Even though they were able to show their dominance in a wide variety of categories it feels like retreat, they’re going to wait and see and live off the Chinese market. But with the sanctions it’s hard to see another way forward.
It could work, it will keep the fact that their technology is more advanced in the minds of the consumers. They’re limited to the export of phones and can produce for china with the surplus components they’ve stashed away before the trade wars escalated last spring.
What I still can’t understand is that the Matebook can ship with Windows from Microsoft but their phones can’t have GMS from google.
Huawei is making it clear that they might be being pushed out Smartphone but it’s because they’re able to be the best at everything. I would have liked to see them hold up that special finger to the US trade sanctions at HDC and show a new smartphone. Talking a look at the bigger picture, you can see why they didn’t.
Qualcomm is in talks to sell Huawei Snapdragon processors. This is how the US will allow Huawei to sell phones with GMS, it’s rumored that we’ll have news on September 15th. If this happens it will secure the US company as the dominant global player in Smartphone processors.
We’ve already seen how Qualcomm isn’t afraid to abuse its market position. Recently we saw Apple refusing to pay Qualcomm because its licensing fees were so high. While a court decided Apple did need to pay what it owed, it also decided Qualcomm needed to rethink its pricing structure.
Regardless about what you think about Huawei, if this deals goes forward, it means Qualcomm even more power than it already is. Monopolies are never a good thing.
I really wish Huawei had shown a new phone to remind us of what market competition breeds.
Better products for consumers.