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Faced with US sanctions, Huawei wants to assert itself as an alternative to Google and Apple

Richard Yu, the head of Huawei's mobile division, presents the brand's latest model, the Mate XS (a high-end foldable device), in Barcelona on February 24. NACHO DOCE / REUTERS

While 2020 has presented itself under the best auspices, with an expected return of growth, now nothing is going as planned for smartphone manufacturers. The onset of the coronavirus epidemic in China has clouded prospects for the start of the year. It is also behind the cancellation of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, ​​where many of the product innovations of the year have traditionally been presented.

Huawei therefore organized its back-to-school conference and presentation of its new devices on Monday, February 24. If the Chinese brand has lifted the veil on its latest model – the Mate XS, a high-end foldable device offered at almost 2,500 euros -, that was not the main issue of this meeting.

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A greater danger than the coronavirus, which has so far little affected it, looms over the Chinese number one in telecommunications. Blacklisted by US authorities due to cybersecurity threats, the giant from Shenzhen is now forced to do without the suite of applications from Google (the Google Store, Gmail, the mapping service Google Maps, etc.) on its products. A major handicap for a brand which, even a year ago, aspired to steal from South Korea Samsung the title of first world manufacturer.

Richard Yu, the boss of the group’s mobile division, spent a long time on the AppGallery, Huawei’s application store, now the company's top priority. The world's number two smartphone intends to assert itself as a real alternative to Google and Apple in the service field, by attracting developers to its application store. “We were forced to”, says Alex Huang, the boss of Huawei in France.

“A real long-term vision”

So far no one has managed to break this duopoly. BlackBerry didn’t do it, and neither did Microsoft. Will Huawei have more arguments than them? In 2019, the Chinese mastodon’s research and development budget amounted to more than 15 billion euros. Of this, the company announced last year that it will spend € 1 billion on the development of this new application platform.

The giant of Shenzhen wants to expand the range of products he markets abroad

This includes the creation of local teams to convince developers in each country to join the Huawei platform. The brand also launched communication campaigns to explain to customers how to get around the inconveniences caused by the American ban.

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