Plan B: how Huawei plans to develop smartphones without Google services

This year, despite American sanctions, Huawei has already sold more smartphones than in the entire

last year.It probably would have been able to bypass Samsung entirely if not for the trade conflict between the United States and China, which resulted in sanctions against the main technology company in the Middle Kingdom. At a minimum, Huawei missed sales of the autumn flagship Mate 30, which was already released without Google services. But even without them, the model was recently launched on the European market. It’s too early to talk about success or failure. But it’s time to talk about Plan B, which Huawei finally showed to journalists.

Life-giving sanctions

The other day at a presentation, the head of UkrainianHuawei Mobile Services (HMS) Anastasia Lytvyn talked about the current successes of AppGallery (an alternative to Google Play on Huawei / Honor smartphones) and billion-dollar investment in application development, and plans to develop the direction globally in Ukraine.

According to Lytvyn, plans for a service directionHuawei had a long time, and 2.5 years ago the company entered Europe with its AppGallery app store. In China, by that time he was already known and in demand. There, users live without Google Play almost always, and local manufacturers release Android devices with their own stores. Sanctions simply pushed Huawei to actively develop the direction. In September, the company announced a $ 1.5 billion investment in service development and for half a year entered into partnerships with both global players and large local developers. At the local December event in Huawei, the curtain was lifted on how exactly the company approaches the issue and what has been done with us.

Own way

The market has already experienced more than one “popularalternative app store.” Nokia, Samsung, Blackberry – poured money into a bottomless barrel. wealthy companies with market expertise, some kind of user base, sales and contacts in the market. As a result, due to the inability to develop the platform and attract developers and users, Maemo, Bada, Blackberry and, probably, other nameless heroes died. Some, such as the Yandex.Store app store, manage to flounder thanks to government support.

Huawei went their own way. The company did not start with high-profile announcements and large presentations, hackathons, etc. According to Litvin, her representatives personally met with all the major global and local players and looked for interesting conditions for them. They approached the issue comprehensively, and also carried out a complete restructuring of internal resources and redirecting them to the development of the ecosystem.

The HMS development strategy is called “1 + 8 + N”, where the smartphone user lives surrounded by an ecosystem of eight devices, and an unlimited number of IoT services.

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Three whales of Huawei Mobile Services

Systematicity &#8211; this is perhaps the main thing thatsets Huawei apart from its failed predecessors. To create favorable conditions for the development of services, the company makes efforts in three directions: this is the core of HMS, that is, the environment and tools for development, motivation for developers and motivation for users.

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It's about a set of technical tools,which the developer may implement (or may not implement, at his discretion) in the application. For example, these are APIs, tools for authorization, payment acceptance, recognition of emotions and much more from Huawei. Now there are 24 of them, and the company is working on a large number. By the way, the entire development staff is located in China.

Litvin claims that from similarGoogle tools are of better quality and deeper technical integration. The first, of course, cannot be verified so easily. Two examples were given at the presentation. The first &#8211; The face recognition algorithm uses about 350 points, while Google's equivalent &#8211; about 100, and things are about the same in other instruments. Second &#8211; local support for developers. and this already sounds more convincing. Huawei has teams on the ground where developers can raise questions if something goes wrong. According to one of Huawei's current partners, Radar, it is much easier to connect payments using HMS than using Google tools, since you have to communicate with an American company for a long time by mail and in English, but here &#8211; native language and all that.

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By the way, now all applications that are already available for AppGallery, even if they were installed from Google Play, are updated through the vendor’s own store.


The company cooperates with both business andindividuals. In addition to local support and technical tools, developers also receive financial incentives from Huawei. This is marketing &#8211; that is, the promotion of services in applications and offline. For example, promotional games in stores, where users receive smartphones to participate, play and participate in prize draws, or other activities. For small creators in highly competitive niches &#8211; this is manna from heaven. Of course, if you can attract users. Top developers can advertise in the browser.

Secondly, this is a commission.When downloading applications, the developer keeps the entire commission for himself. In games &#8211; 85%. If you remember how many problems Apple is now having because of the 30% commission in the app store, and that top developers are trying to bypass the AppStore and accepting payments through Apple (on Android the problem is not so big, but it also exists), then it becomes clear , what is the interest of large international brands that have hundreds of thousands, millions of downloads. But again, this only works when people come to the store. Now Huawei is talking about a 30% growth rate and 570 million users who have done at least some activity in the AppGallery, and by the standards of the smartphone market, these are tears.


Huawei offers its users its ownID, payment service, music streaming service (for now it only has a free library, but they promise to work in this direction), cloud with 5 GB for free and other little things. In the foreseeable future, even in Ukraine &#8211; Huawei Pay, as well as even more local services.

Huawei plans to attract an audience to the storeapplications using promotions, gifts, etc. About 300 gifts are now available in Europe. But the recent failure of Veon eloquently suggests that motivating a simple person to abandon a familiar tool for a new one is not an easy task. Rather, a glimpse into the light in AppGallery will make the need for applications in the absence of alternatives when smartphones with Google Play disappear from the shelves and it turns out that this is the easiest option. Provided that they will be loyal enough to buy a smartphone. Bonuses, virtual currency and stocks will sweeten the pill at the very beginning, and if the user is enough, they will make him more loyal over time.

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An effective driver for attracting audiences couldto become some kind of exclusives, and not local ones and not the level of “a month of free use of some service”, but with players of the Fortnite level, etc. But while Huawei does not talk about this.

There is something else that seems very important to me, andwhich should appeal to users a lot more points and discounts. All applications in the store are double-checked - automatically and manually (by the way, the Ukrainian team of Huawei helps in checking local applications). If you recall how often scandals arise due to spyware and infected applications in the Google store, and how many users suffer in these stories, then with really honest checking and competent communication of AppGallery, security can become one of the key factors of user sympathy for Huawei.

What is already available for users of Huawei / Honor smartphones

According to Lytvyn, in the Ukrainian store about 50%applications created by top developers (Booking, Kayak and others). The company has already attracted all the top businesses in our country and, according to her, covers about 80% of the content needs. Ukraine, by the way, is in the top 3 in the region in terms of the number of applications added.

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There are no American social networks, saystechnically, you can add them, but there are legal nuances that still work. The launch of Huawei Pay is a matter of human resources and priorities, work is ongoing in this direction.

In addition to the store with applications, themes and otherslittle things that already exist in the vendor’s smartphones, Huawei is working on its own browser and assistant. They say the browser &#8211; proprietary development, not an add-on for Chrome. It now features a news feed that is collected by an aggregator partner.

An assistant will appear shortly. Visually, the screen with it looks very similar to Chrome with Google Assistant. There is some kind of news feed, cards. Here integration with air carriers, taxi services, hotel services, etc. is possible. In fact, with any developer, if only the user would benefit from cards. Data for cards are taken from services that integrate with Huawei.

In the near future, the company does not plan tomake money in the service direction, although, in fact, HMS immediately contains all the tools for this. Priorities for the near future &#8211; This means even greater localization, an increase in the number of local services and the user base and their loyalty. Huawei wants to use HMS to increase the emotional attachment of the audience. Once these goals are achieved, it will be possible to think about monetization.

What's next?

Huawei promises to surprise another six months laterJournalists with new features of their services. But even at first glance, colossal work was done in the first six months. The company does not plan to stop developing the direction even if the sanctions are lifted. They served as a good catalyst for the development of services. And with a developed app store, you can live happily even on the AOSP version of Android, as the Chinese market has long shown. No one will hide this channel for her, at the same time, even with such Android, with the availability of applications, she will be able to quietly finish the Harmony OS and roll it out if it really becomes necessary.

In the dry residue. Why can Huawei succeed?

From today's point you can’t definitelyargue that with the advent of services, Huawei will be doomed to success. Application store development will depend on all three sides. From how well Huawei will develop the technical part (there is no doubt in the company's strong motivation), how many developers will be able to attract (and here, probably, there is not enough good commission alone, what difference does it make, what proportion of the donut hole a person will get if it's a hole from a donut) and from users (and here loyalty will work together with a really cool lure). But the systematic nature, huge resources and great motivation of Huawei definitely put it in a more advantageous position than Samsung, Nokia and others like it had at one time.

She also has no problems with the iron part &#8211;The company has been developing the semiconductor business for a long time, and is also strong in telecommunications equipment. Huawei owns a huge number of licenses in 3G, 4G, and its contribution to 5G is generally difficult to overestimate.

If you add to this millions of loyalusers around the world (we are talking about hundreds of millions of sales per year), you can only sympathize with Google and other US companies that have lost Huawei as a customer, probably forever.

It remains only to recall the statement OPPO aboutplans to invest $ 7 billion in creating a device ecosystem. It seems that the snowball, which appeared by the efforts of the US government last year, turned against him, and now the growth of the Chinese giants can not be stopped.