Huawei and Google: it’s more than just the Nexus

by: Simon HillJuly 16, 2015
2.2K

Huawei P8-3

It looks like Google is smitten with a new Android partner. Chinese manufacturer Huawei can do no wrong right now. The feelings are definitely mutual, and a closer relationship could deliver major benefits for both companies. Not least because Huawei can help Google get into China, and Google can help Huawei get out.

Why else would Huawei and Google look to partner? Where is Huawei coming from? What is Google after? And what could it all mean for Android users?

Huawei aims high

We took a close look at the Chinese manufacturer at the start in the year in Huawei – Past, Present, and Future. The company has been growing steadily for the last few years. According to IDC, Huawei is now the fourth largest smartphone vendor in the world by market share, securing 5.2% of shipments in the first three months of 2015. It was third for a while, until rival Lenovo acquired Motorola.

IDC_Asia-Pacific_quarterly_mobile_phone_tracker_may_2015

Huawei has done well in China and a number of other emerging markets around the world. It has also been doing increasingly well in Europe, but it has not yet cracked the lucrative U.S. market. It’s one thing to sell quality hardware at knock-down prices and generate a lot of sales. But selling premium devices with a huge markup is what most companies aspire to, and Huawei is no different.

huawei watch 12

The Huawei Watch was the biggest surprise of MWC – few expected anything to get excited about, much less the best-looking Android Wear smartwatch to date. Since then, we’ve been hearing persistent rumors about a Huawei Nexus smartphone. It’s pretty obvious that Huawei wants to secure a prime slice of that high-end market, but it needs a little marketing help.

A partnership with Google could provide design insight, marketing tips, and be interpreted as a general thumbs up for a company that many Western consumers have little knowledge of. Google could help to open doors for Huawei, but it won’t do so unless it stands to gain something.

Winning Google’s affections

If you look at the ebb and flow of Google’s partnerships on the Android scene, you can generally see the motivation behind them. HTC and Samsung produced smartphones capable of competing with the iPhone. LG and Asus offered lower prices without compromising quality.

Nexus 7 2013 camera buttons tt

It’s pretty easy to see what Google wants because it can often be reduced to – as many people as possible accessing the Internet through Google services or apps. Hardware for Google, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, is just a delivery device.

As the smartphone market has grown saturated, prices have dropped until they’re low enough to persuade every last holdout to snag a smartphone. Google’s Android platform is dominant everywhere, except in the largest and fastest growing market in the world.

Google’s relationship with China has been awkward for a while now and it’s falling behind just as the market is really taking off. Apple has been making a concerted effort to secure a decent market share in China and it’s paying off. Maybe Google is looking for a route in. According to IDC, Apple was the largest vendor in China for the first three months of the year (14.7%), with Xiaomi in second (13.7%), and Huawei in third (11.4%). Google already has a relationship with Lenovo (it came fifth with 8.3%).

google sundar pichai mwc logo 1

Android boss Sundar Pichai talked publicly about Google’s ambition to return to China

Could they work out some kind of deal to include Google services on Huawei’s Chinese smartphones? Will Huawei wield its influence with the Chinese government to help hammer out some kind of a deal with Google? Maybe Huawei will help Google to gain market share for a Chinese Play Store. If Google does want to get into China, then partnering with Huawei makes a lot of sense. It’s also worth remembering, though, that Huawei is strong in lots of other markets and Google wants everyone it can get.

Could a deal go deeper?

Huawei also has major credentials in the wireless networking industry, providing equipment for many major carriers across the globe. Even after the claims about Huawei equipment being suspect on political grounds in the US, the company is in a strong position. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for LTE Network Infrastructure names Huawei as a leader, and points out that it has a broad portfolio that spans the globe.

It’s another potential attraction for Google. We’ve seen some interest in this with Google launching Project Fi. It makes some sense for Google to want to drive the Internet further, delivering better speeds and a better experience, or taking it to areas that have sub-standard service, or no service at all. After all, people can’t enjoy Google services without a decent connection.

If Google was looking to scale up a service like this, offering seamless transition between Wi-Fi and LTE, it could do a lot worse than partner with Huawei. It has the equipment, the expertise, and the patents that Google may need. It’s not going to happen in the short term, but in the future – who knows?

Google IO 2015 project balloon

Balloons alone can’t make Internet ubiquitous, and Huawei can be potent ally for Google

What does it mean for now?

For right now, a closer relationship between Google and Huawei means that the Huawei Watch is likely to be the best Android Wear smartwatch so far. How meaningful that is will depend on how sold you are on the smartwatch trend, but don’t discount it until you see one up close – it’s a really nice device. If you want a premium competitor for the Apple Watch, this could be it.

The prospect of a Huawei Nexus may be more exciting for many Android fans because we’ll probably get great specs with decent pricing. Whether we’ll see a return to the kind of value LG’s Nexus 4 and 5 offered, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Whatever else Huawei may or may not be doing for Google is firmly behind the scenes, but those two forthcoming devices are reason enough for a closer relationship.

  • seattle tech

    Google wants in china. Huawei is china (government). Huawei wants in america. Win win loss loss

    • nishantsirohi123

      Should have gone with htvhtc

      • Svnjay

        HTC Nexus 9 was a disaster last year.

    • abc905

      what loss?

  • nishantsirohi123

    Should have been Sony… Lg was able to bounce back thanks to nexus 4 and 5

    About time Sony gets some love, they have been rather generous about unlocking devices, and have supported devices lot longer than most other companies

  • Karly Johnston

    It is niave to think China will allow Google services just because they get to build a Nexus.

    • abc905

      As the article says, Huawei may help Google through it’s INFLUENCE with the Chinese Gov, in exchange for Google promoting the huawei brand through leveraging the Nexus branding.

      • Karly Johnston

        and I am telling you that will never happen. Google in China means freedom of information and a threat to the state.

        • gagkoldude

          The article (and abc905) never explicitly stated that the Government would allow Google services, you are creating your own conclusions here.

          • Karly Johnston

            uh… no…”It’s pretty easy to see what Google wants because it can often be reduced to – as many people as possible accessing the Internet through Google services or apps. Hardware for Google, whether it’s a smartphone, tablet, or laptop, is just a delivery device.”

          • gagkoldude

            This still does not explicitly state that Google wants the Chinese government to accept Google services. It states what Google wants in its entirety, lmao. And it’s true.

            “Could they work out some kind of deal to include Google services on Huawei’s Chinese smartphones? Will Huawei wield its influence with the Chinese government to help hammer out some kind of a deal with Google? Maybe Huawei will help Google to gain market share for a Chinese Play Store. If Google does want to get into China, then partnering with Huawei makes a lot of sense. It’s also worth remembering, though, that Huawei is strong in lots of other markets and Google wants everyone it can get.”

            That paragraph ^ focuses on possibilities and potential. The author makes sure not to say anything specific, and to stay ambiguous, for the sake of people like you calling him out.

            Perhaps he is implying that Google does want their services in China, but more than anything he is just throwing out ideas, and that’s OK.

          • Karly Johnston

            obviously the article can’t state something that hasn’t happened yet, but it says what it expects which is naive. it will never happen and I do not believe that is Google’s motivation for doing so as they also know it will never happen.

          • gagkoldude

            You missed what I just said. The author never states he believes Google wants in on China, he is pondering what Google may possibly be thinking.

            None of his statements can be synonymous with “I think Google wants their services in China.”

            But his statements are synonymous with “What can Google be thinking? Perhaps this or that, but we don’t really know.”

          • Karly Johnston

            Google is looking for the lowest cost manufacturer… glad i could answer the question instead of pondering silly ideas of a Google comeback in China.

          • gagkoldude

            If that were true, then they could go with Gionee or Micromax, as they have done for Android One. Clearly you are incorrect here. It is naive to think Google simply wants the lowest cost manufacturer, LOL

          • Karly Johnston

            uhh… neither of them make Android One. Micromax rebrands Chinese phones.

          • gagkoldude

            Stupid.
            http://www.micromaxinfo.com/mobiles/smartphones/canvas/Canvas-A1-AQ4501
            Getting tired of your know it all attitude.

          • Karly Johnston

            Stupid… those are all made in China. I’m getting tired of your retardedness failing the test after being given the answer.

          • gagkoldude

            Umm what’s your point? You said Micromax never made an Android One device, I just showed you they did. That’s all. Don’t try to change the topic lol

          • Karly Johnston

            They didn’t make it, they rebranded it from China which is why there are three Android One models sold in India with the same specs with different brands stamped on them. Please learn something about Chinese Whitebox before debating something you know nothing about.

          • Stuart Filson

            A heads up. The so-called Karly Johnston spends their life making negative comments about various Android phones, often with a cutsie tone. The person behind the Karly Johnston persona blocks anyone on YouTube who points this out. The Google+ thumbnail looks like an 8 year old girl, making me doubt Karly Johnston’s authenticity. I’ve come to believe this troll is a very insecure and troubled person.

          • gagkoldude

            Ah. Thanks for letting me know. Her disqus history is private so I couldn’t check that as I usually do

          • Karly Johnston

            The discussion is abou manufacturing a phone, they didn’t make it hence not relevant.

          • gagkoldude

            OK. So you just admit your point was not relevant. I guess that means you concede? Kbye

          • Karly Johnston

            uh…no. I admit your point was irrelevant to the discussion of why Huawei was selected to make a Nexus, you claiming Micromax made Android One when they in fact only slap their logo on a Chinese Whitebox nullified your argument.

          • gagkoldude

            So you are admitting you have been lying this entire time? Thanks again. Dunno why you keep coming back to comment now….

          • Karly Johnston

            uh…no. I admit you have the intelligence of a cucumber but then I would be lying about the cucumber.

          • gagkoldude

            Thanks for the compliment. Good thing I’m not as stupid as a cucumber.

            Are we out of pointless statements to make now? You’re getting boring.

        • abc905

          How is Google maps freedom of information? How is less malware for its citizens via play store verified apps freedom of information? Google doesn’t have to return in total, just the parts that will benefit everyone. Everyone can agree that the current app store situation is a mess for everyone in China. The consumers can’t get easy access to all apps (they have to fish for risky apks online), the OEMs can’t stock their own app stores effectively enough to compete with Apple, which has their entire complement of apps in China.

          • Karly Johnston

            There are three big app stores in China, all censored by the government. Google services are not the only thing blocked, the big social media and news apps will not work without a VPN that isn’t blocked, harder to come by month after month so downloading an apk to a blocked service is useless. Google proved unwilling to meet the parties censorship demands and unless they are willing to make a 180 turn, they will not be let in.

          • abc905

            Your point? You just told me things I already know?

      • hung solo

        Huawei to Chinese government ” Google’s our friend, can we let Google play and services into the country?” Chinese government ” tahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah what you think this is, a fucking Holiday Inn? Idiot” tahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah.

        • abc905

          lol. holiday inn?

          but it’s not that black and white. Huawei certainly has influence, being big and well connected it is. It’s Chairman is a former army general or something. And no, certainly China would not allow Google search back on. But a play store with only apps approved and verified by the government, the return of google maps, the return of gmail, etc. Surely that can be arranged (*wink wink*), with some money put in pockets here and there…

          The chinese government isn’t some monolithic communist wall that says “NO” to everything.

  • paxmos

    I think you are right, you are not that smart

    • niceTrick

      hey,bud,just be likeable

  • xdigi

    Google partnering with scumbag Chinese companies who push knock off products and claim them as their own. Seems like a good fit.

  • xdigi

    “Huawei Nexus…”

    More like Nowei.

  • I’ve been a Nexus 7 user since the original 2012, and upgraded to the 2013 edition and still use it as my daily driver. I would love another Nexus by Asus, but if Huawei can pull off what Asus did, it will be amazing. As for now I can only hope. :(