Huawei is preparing an ecosystem capable of competing with Apple

11 min

This is huawei building image

Rise in power in the field of PC, opening of premium stores in Europe, development in connected objects, the Chinese giant is gradually building an integrated, but not closed, ecosystem.

Google Vs Huawei

Still deprived of Google’s services after seven months of the US trade war, Huawei has not given up. Far from there. Reinforced by the maintenance of its good financial and commercial results, as well as by the resumption of its relationships with major players like Microsoft or Qualcomm, it even displays a solid appetite on the high-tech consumer market.
1 + 8 + N: Huawei’s magic formula.

Shanghai Congress

At the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai last June, Huawei announced a new strategy. Officially, it only relates to the Internet of Things. But in reality, it now presides over the destiny of all its products. It can be summed up in an almost mathematical formula: 1 + 8 + N. Graphically, it is represented by a so-called “Flywheel” model composed of three concentric circles. The user and his smartphone are in the center, as can be seen in the diagram below.
Huawei’s 1 + 8 + N strategy.
Huawei – Huawei’s 1 + 8 + N strategy.

Huawei Strategy

The “1” is therefore primary access: the smartphone is at the heart of the matrix. Why ? Because it is the device that allows you to control everything else, by gestures or via voice commands with the Celia assistant already available in China and which will be launched elsewhere in the world in 2020. The “8” includes eight products or accessories that support and enhance your smartphone experience: tablets, PCs, wireless headphones, smart speakers, glasses, watches, televisions and connected cars.

Finally, the “N” is where everything comes together, network and connected objects. Forget specialized applications, the equipment will be controlled via a single centralized interface. The devices are grouped according to different scenarios and categories of services such as home automation with home camera and robot vacuum cleaner, or exercise and health with blood pressure monitor and connected scale.

To make all these objects communicate together, Huawei puts forward its in-house HiLink protocol.Two types of partnerships are possible with Huawei.On the offensive in wearable, audio and connected televisions.

Huawei Market Growth

Still the second biggest seller of smartphones in the world despite the ups and downs of this year, Huawei intends to ramp up in other segments. It had made a breakthrough entry in 2017 on a PC market yet in full decline. Its performance has not weakened since. “We recorded 240% growth in the PC market in the first half of 2019,” said Huawei product marketing director Wally Wang during a press presentation we attended. The Chinese giant intends to continue this momentum now that it is again authorized to use Windows, after a brief interruption.

Huawei Mobile Phones and tablets

Huawei focuses on a few high-end and affordable laptops, designed to stay in constant interaction with the smartphone. Same thing with tablets. The market may be in decline to the point that Google has divested it, Huawei intends to remain there and even gain additional market share with models like the MatePad Pro which will be released in France next year. We should also expect an offensive in connected TVs, audio and the wearable market next year.

Partnerships for connected objects

This is huawei partnership with hilink photoThe idea is not to manufacture all the equipment for this ecosystem and to diversify as much as an actor like Xiaomi but to focus on circles 1 and 8. Regarding the N, Huawei is limited for the moment to connected bulbs , home camera and air purifier. For the rest, he initiated two types of relationships with his partners: “Design for Huawei”, a real collaboration to develop the products, and “Works with Huawei HiLink”, where the objects are just compatible with the protocol HiLink. Among the products concerned, there are both kettles as well as smart locks and smart mirrors.

The catalog is vast and impressive, exhibited in the Smart Home Ark Lab at Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen that we were able to visit. “We have more than 500 products and 200 partnerships,” explains Sheng Lin, in charge of IoT marketing. “This allows us to reach 50 million users, including 5 million active users per month,” she adds.Some products compatible with the HiLink communication protocol.

Huawei Eco System and Diversity

This is huawei eco system pictureThis integrated ecosystem logically encourages the user to stay in the universe of the brand and to buy compatible Huawei equipment, in order to make them communicate together as best as possible. Impossible, for example, to make multi screen collaboration on your Huawei laptop without owning a smartphone of the same brand. However, Huawei is careful not to close its ecosystem. The products are also compatible with other industry standards.

All these connected objects are already available in China but not elsewhere in the world. Huawei will start marketing them outside its borders next year. The highlight of this offensive, the flagship stores. Large premium stores that are both points of sale, repair, meeting brand fans and user training. Like the Apple Stores.

But it is also for Huawei to advantageously stage its ecosystem and its famous 1 + 8 + N model. He wants to open 30 flagship stores worldwide by 2024. All major Chinese and European cities will be affected. In France, the first flagship store will be inaugurated in the first quarter in the Paris Opera district.
Huawei’s first flagship store in China opened last September in Shenzhen.

“We will start by offering only a few connected products. And we want to initiate partnerships with French manufacturers of connected objects, “explains Alex Huang, director of Huawei’s consumer division in France.

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The game is not won in advance in our country. Huawei will land in an already very competitive market for voice speakers, for example. Same thing for connected objects. High-end players like Philips Hue or entry-level like Xiaomi are already firmly established.

French operators have almost all also started to offer home automation or security packages in partnership with Bosch, D-Link, Awox, Netatmo or Somfy. Aware of the challenge, it is without fanfare or trumpet that Huawei will slowly introduce its IoT ecosystem in France in 2020. But it still took care to get closer to the operators, with whom it is just starting to discuss.

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