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Market Insight

Huawei hopes high-powered specs over-shadow uncertain Google services and app support

September 19, 2019


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Huawei launched the Mate 30-series of devices, the company’s latest flagships, in Munich today.  Again, the Chinese OEM is launching a new Mate series in Europe with the express goal of retaining their international markets.  

 

The launch was highly anticipated, as it was the first opportunity to see how Huawei would deal with Android OS without Google Mobile Services (GMS) support.  For international markets (outside of domestic China), GMS is vital to consumers in the Google ecosystem.  As a result of the US and China trade tensions, the ability to secure GMS became a casualty which will have an out-sized impact on Huawei’s international operations. 

 

Today’s launch was a mixed bag for Huawei. On one hand, the company launched a trio of new flagships which build on the momentum built by previous P and Mate series devices. The hardware design continues to evolve and camera capabilities continue to be among best in the industry. Taken in a vacuum, the Mate 30 devices should be successful devices in both China and Western Europe as well as cement Huawei as a brand that is synonymous with premier mobile photography 

 

However, Huawei did not deliver on alleviating potential consumer concerns about the availability of GMS and the suite of widely used applications. More should have been done to cover this essential part of the smartphone package. Huawei’s delivery sounded and looked more like it was added last minute to the presentation, after hopes of finding a favorable solution to add Google’s services fell through. As is, the Mate 30 series will have a hard time with consumers in Europe and other international markets where GMS is crucial to consumer adoption. 

 

Specification Powerhouse 

 

Huawei again delivers devices which are more than competitive compared to other leading flagship devices.  

 

Mate 30 

Mate 30 Pro 

Mate 30 RS 

Display 

6.62” OLED 

6.53” flex OLED 

 

Processor 

Kirin 990 4G/5G 

Kirin 990 4G/5G 

Kirin 990 5G 

Battery 

4,200 mAh, 27W wireless charging, 40W wired charging 

4,500 mAh, 27W wireless charging, 40W wired charging 

4,500 mAh, 27W wireless charging, 40W wired charging 

Camera 

Rear: 40mp primary, OIS; 16mp ultra-wide; 8mp telephoto, OIS. 

Front: 32mp telephoto, OIS. 

Rear: 40mp primary, OIS; 40mp ultra-wide; 8mp telephoto, OIS; depth sensing lens. 

Front: 32mp telephoto, OIS. 

Rear: 40mp primary, OIS; 40mp ultra-wide; 8mp telephoto, OIS; depth sensing lens. 

Front: 32mp telephoto, OIS. 

Memory 

 

8GB/256GB 

12GB/512GB 

Price 

€799 (4G) 

€1099 (4G) 

€1199 (5G) 

€2095 

Availability 

TBD 

TBD 

TBD 

   

Analysis 

 

Huawei took a big step forward when it launched the P20 series of devices. With them came advanced camera features which put Huawei in a leadership position among other premium OEMs, like Google, Apple and Samsung. Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength – growing in Western Europe and solidifying its market leader position in China. 

 

Under normal circumstances, the latest Mate devices should not only keep Huawei on its growth trajectory, but potentially even increase its momentum. However, due to the missing GMS, this is unlikely to happen. 

 

 

 

While the hardware specifications and capabilities are clearly competitive in today’s market, the software part of the smartphone equation will likely present an insurmountable obstacle for Huawei in most markets outside of domestic China. 

 

Huawei waited until the very end of the presentation to address the elephant in the room: the Mate 30 devices do not have Google’s Mobile Services (GMS) on board. Further: Huawei failed to clearly explain how this significant user experience impediment for users outside of China will be addressed. Rather, Richard Yu, President of Huawei Consumer BU, highlighted the billion-dollar initiative to develop for and around HMS – Huawei Mobile Services.  

 

Aside from the hardware specifications, which had already leaked to the public before the event, the software ecosystem for these devices was of critical interest. Huawei failed to provide an adequate solution. Highlighting its App Gallery store, with a few usage statistics, will do little to convince European users that they can buy and use these devices as they could expect to with any other flagship device.  

 

Huawei should do more to illustrate how its App Galley can be used to replace some of the missing Google applications and how users can access their content via Huawei Mobile Services (HMS, the company’s GMS replacement). Neither took place today, casting a dark shadow over an otherwise phenomenal hardware launch.

 

Instead, Huawei launched what is effectively a hastilput-together developer engagement campaign. This type of OEM branded developer community announcement should have happened, to much bigger fanfare outside of China, some time ago just as Samsung has done with their developer community. Announcing this initiative at a device launch event (even with a splashy $1 billion commitment) when the new device is missing critical parts of the user experience for its target market is a stretch. Consumers are unlikely to buy into this. They will not buy the device at a premium and then wait for apps to arrive.  

 

Additionally, the software issues extend beyond Google’s services. Other popular apps, like Facebook, Twitter and the like are also likely going to fall under the ban restrictions – further depleting the shelf in Huawei’s app store. In some cases, alternatives to popular apps have already failed – it seems unlikely that development is now restarted. 

 

Huawei’s strategy to focus on its own App Gallery will work in some markets, but not in Western Europe and not with flagship devices. In emerging markets, it could be possible to replace Google’s ecosystem with Huawei apps and Chinese apps and services. However, in these markets lower end devices continue to drive volume. 

 

The presentation indicates that Huawei was hoping until the very last minute to find another solution for its apps and services problem. It was not able to do so, and the result is a premium flagship device which will be severely handicapped in its target markets. As it stands right now, Huawei is leaving it up to consumers to figure out solutions to their software needs. The lack of carrier representation also indicates that carrier partners are taking a cautious approach to the new devices. Essentially, Huawei is attempting to sell a Chinese version of their flagship phone outside of China. 

 

Upon review, the demonstration units in the experience zone of the event did not have any Google apps pre-installed. This is also how they will have to ship to consumers, when the phones do become availableas long as the US trade order remains in place 

 

Even if Huawei’s home market continues to deliver market-beating growth for the company, it will not be possible to replace the lost market share and revenue from Western European markets. 

Organization
Huawei
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