It has been a big week for Huawei, with the firm breaking through all manner of barriers – including ongoing shade from the US government and the pandemic sweeping the land – to unveil its new Huawei P40 line of phones.
And at first glance, you may justifiably think the new Huawei P40, Huawei P40 Pro and Huawei P40 Pro Plus are the most important release for Huawei in quite some time. After all, the three handsets are, on paper, technological marvels that look set to once again set THE benchmark for 2020 camera phones.
The Pro Plus is particularly impressive, featuring a penta-camera setup featuring a wealth of custom parts that, according to Huawei, will let users “take photos like the ones you see in prestigious magazines.
But for me, while the hardware is cool, underneath all the glitz and glamour around the P40, there was more important news to come out of the launch: Huawei’s progress wooing developers and businesses to its HMS and AppGallery services.
I’ve noted before how I think HMS and AppGallery are key releases for Huawei. But this week it showed its fangs to Google in a big way when it revealed its plan for the new services.
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For those that missed it, HMS (Huawei Mobile Services) and AppGallery are Huawei’s replacements for Google Services and the Play Store on Android. Specifically, HMS is the backend that runs things like mobile payments, and AppGallery is the firm’s new app store.
The company was forced to create and use them after an executive order from the US government forced Google to diminish ties with Huawei and remove its Android license.
At first, I thought the services would take a while to grow, and right now, they are pretty bare. You won’t find most major apps in AppGallery, and while Huawei’s digital assistant Ceilia sounds like Google Assistant, a quick play with it shows it’s nowhere near as smart.
But, the services are a key release and a big part of Huawei’s secret weapon against Google. I speak of course of the firm’s strong connections to the Chinese, Russian and African markets and newly revealed willingness to leverage them.
Huawei director Jerry Huang made this clear during a briefing attended by Trusted Reviews. In it, he laid bare Huawei’s aspirations and plans to win developers over by offering them access to markets Google and Apple can’t.
The move is a smart one. To date, Google hasn’t been able to get a number of its services into China for political reasons. Most Chinese mobile users have never used the Play Store as a result, despite being among the most proactive app users on the planet.
But Huawei is huge there, and as Huang noted, can offer Western developers access Google frankly can’t. This is a fact not lost on major companies, with big names including Unity and the BBC already jumping at the chance to get into AppGallery early on.
I can see the number rising exponentially over the next year as developers line up to take part in the next app gold rush and sell their wares on Huawei’s digital silk road – a development that will be of big concern to Google and have long-lasting ramifications that could reshape the mobile industry as we know it.