Huawei app

Techilicious by Rajiv Makhni: Can Huawei’s Application Gallery Compete with Google and Apple?

At its most basic level, a smartphone is nothing more than the apps you have on it. Without apps, there would be no smartphone, no smartphone brand, no smartphone user, and no trillion dollar smartphone market. And this fundamental fact has made the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store the two most powerful places on the planet.

But Huawei has just thrown in the gauntlet and wants to become the third alternative to what has been an absolute stranglehold on the smartphone apps sector. If successful, it will lead to a more seismic change than anything the smartphone industry has ever seen. Let’s understand why Huawei even wants to attempt the impossible and the chain of events that has led to the current situation.

Huawei on a roll

Early 2019. Huawei is coasting. It is already dominating the Chinese market, it has made great inroads in Europe, it is opening up the US market and its entry into India, Russia and many other countries has been a great success. Huawei phones are at the cutting edge of technology, innovation and R&D are paying off, they are receiving rave reviews across the world and it is only a matter of time before it becomes the brand for # 1 smartphones on the planet.

Caught in the crossfire

In a political and financial trade war between the United States and China, Huawei becomes an unwitting victim. With their global dominance, hurting Huawei means the United States can hurt China. The United States passes sanctions that prevent American companies from doing business with Huawei and relies on its allies to do the same. It is indeed a blow for a company which has suppliers and partners all over the world. But it’s in software that a nuclear bomb explodes right under Huawei’s feet. Without access to the Google Play Store, Huawei smartphones are more or less than expensive clipboards.

Huawei app gallery has glaring omissions like WhatsApp and Facebook

Huawei retaliates

Huawei has been resilient. He upped the ante in China and sold more home phones than ever before, he continued to sell outside of China due to temporary lulls in the ban, he released phones well ahead of competition, including two foldable phones and some devices that were full powerhouses in camera and functionality. Huawei sold 230 million smartphones in 2019, about 30 million more than in 2018. But that doesn’t mean 2020 will be the same. These temporary respites could suddenly disappear. The ban could become final. Relying solely on the Chinese market would not satisfy Huawei’s aspirations for world domination. He had to do something big and unprecedented. It had to have its own mobile services and its own app store that could compete and be better than Google’s Play Store.

The plan

Android is open source and therefore an easy option for Huawei as an operating system. It also has its own operating system, called Harmony. My bet would be on an open source Android with several Huawei mobile services like Huawei ID, Huawei Mobile Cloud, Huawei Video, Huawei Maps and Huawei Browser. And then the Holy Grail. A gallery of Huawei applications. The App Gallery is already available in over 170 countries with 400 million monthly active users. But the real success of the App Gallery will come when it has nearly all of the top 100 apps used by consumers around the world. Right now there are glaring omissions like WhatsApp and Facebook. Huawei plans to invest over $ 1 billion to make sure all the right developers are attracted.

Help from others

A Huawei mobile services platform and app gallery is a very attractive proposition for brands and smartphone manufacturers who would like to break their dependence on the Google App Store. For app developers, too, a platform that is ready to invest millions of dollars is a very attractive proposition, as the policies of the Google Play Store are quite one-sided. So, Huawei seems to have some momentum behind them.

Could Huawei really succeed? For my part, I would love to see Huawei succeed in its very ambitious endeavor. And you? Would you be ready to try an alternative platform?

Rajiv Makhni is Editor-in-Chief of Technology, NDTV and presenter of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

Techilicious comes out every fortnight

Brunch HT, March 15, 2020

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