WIRED: Tell us about your “one-click deployment” app partnership with Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo?
Richard Yu: We are thinking about it, but we still hope we can get the US license and we still want to cooperate with Google. But if we can’t get it, then we’ll think about it. We don’t want to destroy the value of American companies with these kinds of partnerships, which is why we don’t.
WIRED: What was the idea behind the launch of Celia?
Richard Yu: We already have the “Hi Celia” voice assistant in China, and before the US ban, we had no plans to introduce it to the global market. Now with the ban, we have to do it. Celia is only at the beginning [compared to rivals], but it’s improving very, very quickly. We are going to launch it in more and more countries, with local languages and integration with local services.
WIRED: Why haven’t you joined the smart home alliance with Apple, Google, Amazon and Zigbee?
Richard Yu: Our Huawei HiLink is an open standard and we did so two years earlier than other global standards like that of several US companies last year. So we are open about it, but we want to continue to support our own standard. We are considering supporting the other standard, but the US ban is limiting us. We therefore fear that if we move to [Project Connected Home Over IP] and then something happens, then we can’t use it. And our standard is better than theirs, so why would we give up on ours?
WIRED: How much longer can cameras be the battleground for smartphone innovation?
Richard Yu: I think for at least a year or two. To be honest, it’s also very expensive. We spend a lot of money on it, we invest a lot. Spending on [P40] the camera is $ 100 [per phone], maybe even over $ 100. It’s too expensive to be honest. The cost of the material is too high.
For the next two years the camera is very important, but after these two years we will not stop. But I think it’s not just the camera, but also the more time the consumer spends with the phone, they need longer battery life, bigger screens and more eye protection. . But if you have a bigger screen and want to put it in your pocket and hand, then you need a foldable phone or virtual reality.
WIRED: When will foldable phones cost about the same as regular phones?
Richard Yu: I guess it would take us over a year; maybe a year and a half or two. The cost in this category is very high; we are losing money. The costs are so high, you can’t believe it, you can’t make a profit. But the market demand [for the Mate Xs] is huge. We continue to increase our manufacturing to increase the volume of shipments.
WIRED: How has the coronavirus crisis affected Huawei’s smartphone business?