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Huawei partners with TomTom for maps in Google’s absence

Huawei has struggled to maintain momentum ever since the United States enacted a trade embargo on American firms dealing with their Chinese counterparts. None have been more impacted than Huawei, a firm that was the third-largest phone manufacturer in the world and growing.

But being cut off from Google meant limited use Android – leaving it relying on the open source version only – and no access of Google’s own apps like Gmail, Maps, YouTube or the Play Store. This has hit the company hard – good as the Mate 30 Pro was from a hardware perspective, we simply couldn’t recommend it with the software limitations, and most other reviewers felt the same way.

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So understandably, with no end to the US/China trade war in sight, Huawei has been looking at ways to make its handsets more appealing. We know it’s already working on its own operating system, and now, according to Reuters, it has a new partner for maps: TomTom.

The firm, being Dutch, is not impacted by the US trade embargo, and TomTom spokesperson Remco Meerstra told Reuters that the deal had been done for a while, but not publicly revealed. According to the site, it’ll let Huawei use TomTom maps, traffic data and navigation software to develop apps for its smartphones.

TomTom – once synonymous with SatNav systems – has become a software-only business after selling its telematics division to Bridgestone last year. As recently as 2016 it was attempting to get into the running watch game with the Spark 3.  

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While this probably won’t be a gamechanger for Huawei’s performance in the west where Google apps are pretty much essential no matter the hardware maker (plenty of iPhone users rely on Gmail, YouTube and Google Maps), this could be important in retaining functionality in territories where brand loyalty to Google is less fixed. And given the firm’s biggest market is its home in China where over a billion potential customers live, that’s quite a big deal.

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