Home PC News Huawei has the same app problem that doomed Windows Phone

Huawei has the same app problem that doomed Windows Phone

Huawei is now the world’s greatest smartphone maker when it comes to shipments, in response to Canalys data, which suggests the Chinese tech agency surpassed rival Samsung in Q2 2020, albeit principally as a consequence of its home gross sales in China. This is the primary time in 9 years that an organization apart from Samsung or Apple has led the market.

Huawei was fast to pounce on the information, notably given the turbulent 14 months it has endured after the U.S. issued an embargo forcing it to cease utilizing Google’s taste of Android in its new handsets.

But regardless of Huawei’s glee at surpassing Samsung, its future within the international smartphone enviornment seems bleak, due largely to the app restrictions enforced by the U.S. ban. The crux of Huawei’s drawback, as most individuals by now know, is that patrons of its newer telephones can’t entry many big-name apps with out having to leap via gargantuan hoops. In some ways, Huawei’s predicament is just like that Windows Phone confronted a decade in the past.

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Above: Windows Phone eight launch (2012)

Image Credit: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat

At the time of its launch, Microsoft’s cellular working system was typically packaged with a few of the finest {hardware} the market needed to provide, and Nokia’s gadgets specifically supplied very good cameras. But Windows Phone simply couldn’t ditch the “lack of apps” tag around its neck, although Microsoft did spend appreciable sources convincing builders to construct for Windows Phone, even holding developer competitions. In the top, Microsoft managed to persuade some firms to construct for its platform, however the apps have been typically not as full-featured as their iOS and Android counterparts, and a good chunk of them have been hardly ever up to date.

Similarly, Huawei gadgets are extensively lauded for options like AI-infused chips and high quality cameras. And the corporate can be making an attempt to incentivize builders to affix its platform, recently launching a $1 million contest that builds on its $1 billion Shining Star developer program.

In the yr or so because the U.S. embargo got here into impact, Huawei has doubled down on its growth of Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), its personal model of Google Mobile Services (GMS) designed to switch Google’s ecosystem and supply builders with instruments to create apps for the Huawei platform. In a press briefing earlier this week, Jaime Gonzalo, VP of Mobile Services Europe for Huawei’s shopper enterprise group, touted progress the corporate has made within the final yr, revealing that it now has 1.6 million builders on board, a rise of 76% year-on-year, and greater than 80,000 apps that now use parts of Huawei’s HMS.

But such progress metrics don’t actually matter to most individuals. All they care about is whether or not they can readily entry all of the instruments and companies they need, one thing Huawei has tried to deal with.

“In reality, there are 3 million apps out there, so this [81,000 apps] is less,” Gonzalo stated. “[But] the thing is, it’s not about volume of apps, it’s about the pertinence and the services that these provide. So we evaluated our users, how many apps they use on their phones, and we found that no matter which country, the average number of apps is about 80 … what is the point of offering 3 million apps if many of them are clones of one another or bloatware?”

Although Huawei’s case for high quality over amount is legitimate, the actual drawback is {that a} huge chunk of the world’s hottest apps are merely not accessible via its AppGallery app retailer.

Delayed drawback

In the speedy aftermath of the U.S. embargo, most Huawei telephone customers noticed no distinction of their app choice as a result of the restriction solely impacts newer Huawei and Honor-branded handsets. Huawei has typically downplayed the adjustments throughout current product launches.

Without entry to Google Play Services, anybody shopping for a brand new Huawei or Honor system as we speak can’t simply entry WhatsApp, Instagram, Uber, Uber Eats, Airbnb, Facebook, Google Maps, YouTube, Netflix, Twitter, Tinder, Dropbox, Slack, Amazon Prime, Spotify, eBay, Strava, or many others.

In sure circumstances, it’s potential to entry a few of the aforementioned companies via a browser, although typically with much less performance. Huawei additionally lately launched a brand new service called Petal Search, which allows customers to seek for the .APK information of Android apps both via the businesses themselves (e.g. Facebook makes its Android apps accessible to obtain instantly from its personal web site) or from third-party .APK libraries.

But this resolution is unwieldy and deviates wildly from folks’s expectations. Moreover, it’s not straightforward to supply well timed, computerized updates when firms refresh their apps — a core operate served by Google and Huawei’s respective cellular companies.

Above: Huawei’s Petal Search hyperlinks to .APK information of widespread apps

There aren’t any limitations stopping firms — within the U.S. or in any other case — from including their apps to Huawei’s AppGallery. Amazon, Microsoft, and Snap have already embraced AppGallery, which factors to one of many key variations between the state of affairs Huawei faces as we speak and the one Microsoft confronted with Windows Phone. Huawei gadgets are nonetheless primarily based on Android, which makes it a lot simpler for builders to get their apps into its ecosystem.

But Huawei is now racing the clock. The majority of its gadgets are at present within the palms of tens of millions of individuals globally who can nonetheless entry Google’s Android. Now the corporate is making an attempt to get its home so as earlier than these shoppers start upgrading to new gadgets. As folks transition from older Huawei or Honor handsets to the contemporary crop of gadgets, many received’t notice they’re shopping for into a very completely different model of Android and will probably be left bitterly upset.

A decade in the past, many much less tech-savvy shoppers have been equally impacted after they purchased new Windows Phones for the digital camera solely to find they couldn’t entry a lot of the apps their buddies had on Android or iOS.

Online retailers are taking be aware this time. Some are posting outstanding warnings subsequent to new Huawei gadgets to keep at bay a backlash from confused shoppers who can’t determine learn how to set up WhatsApp, Instagram, or Uber.

Above: Huawei smartphone on the market on U.Ok. web site

Such web sites additionally provide detailed guides for purchasers, explaining the varied processes they will undergo to bridge no less than a part of this Google-sized hole. But folks don’t like workarounds and so they don’t like friction, which is the place Huawei’s rivals stand to learn.

Indeed, Huawei might have surpassed Samsung as the highest canine in international smartphone shipments, however Samsung may very well be the massive winner when Huawei’s clients search for manufacturers unencumbered by app restrictions. Huawei can in all probability obtain some success in markets which are much less reliant on apps and companies from Google and different U.S. firms, like Russia, however the firm’s possibilities of remaining a worldwide powerhouse are slim if it may possibly’t make core apps simply accessible to its customers.

Sure, there’ll all the time be some customers keen to strive alternatives to market-leading apps, however not at any significant scale. In the top, it doesn’t matter how good your on-device AI is, or how superb your digital camera is. That is the painful lesson Microsoft and Nokia realized with Windows Phone all these years in the past.

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