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18 May


Google services will return to Chinese smartphones

The launch of the new line of Honor smartphones may help the brand to gain ground, but will weaken Huawe itself

Photo: go2android.de

/NOVOSTIVL/ Google services may return in spring to Honor smartphones, which rank second in sales on the Russian market. This became possible after the separation of the brand from parent Huawei, which came under US sanctions back in 2019. The release of a new line of Honor smartphones may help the brand to build up its position, but it will weaken Huawei itself, as it will deprive a part of its audience of its AppGallery app store.

Chinese smartphone brand Honor is preparing a new line of devices with support for Google services, two sources familiar with the situation told Kommersant. An interlocutor close to the company confirmed that smartphones that will enter the market after the separation of the brand from Huawei (it was announced in November 2020 that it was sold to Shenzhen Zhixin New Information Technology Co.) will no longer have the Huawei AppGallery app store, while it will remain on previously released devices. Honor plans to present the new line in the spring, it will be released including in Russia, says one of the sources.

Huawei and Honor began to separate online sales of devices of the two brands in Russia: on January 13-14, the Huawei website, on which, among other things, Honor smartphones were presented, did not work, the message on the site said about technical work. After the update on the afternoon of January 15, the Honor models disappeared from the site (they are presented on a separate site of the Honor brand, which is also controlled by Huawei structures in Russia). Huawei told Kommersant that the site was undergoing technical work, assuring that in the near future its work will be fully restored.

Google, which develops the Android operating system that is used in Huawei and Honor smartphones, stopped working with brands after US President Donald Trump signed a decree in May 2019 to block the purchase of equipment that threaten the country's national security, and the US Department of Commerce introduced Huawei into a black list. To ensure the survival of the Honor brand, Huawei decided in November 2020 to sell it to a third-party Chinese consortium. The cost of the deal was not disclosed, according to Reuters, it could be $ 15 billion.

The deal is supposed to allow Honor to operate without the restrictions that are imposed on Huawei. So, Honor is already in talks with the American Qualcomm on the use of its processors with support for the new 5G communication standard, the publication GSMArena reported in December.

The lack of Google services has shaken Honor's position, including in Russia. If at the end of 2019 its share in the Russian smartphone market in units was 24.6%, and in money - 19%, then at the end of 2020 the figures dropped to 21% and 14%, respectively.

According to him, in the fourth quarter of the year, the share of Honor in pieces was 15%, and in money - 6%, Huawei took 5% and 3%, respectively. In unit sales, Honor is the second in Russia after Samsung, and in terms of revenue - the third after Apple and Samsung, they specified in M.Video-Eldorado. In 2020, about 4.5% of smartphones sold in Russia fell on Honor without Google services, the retailer said. In total, in 2020, 31.5 million smartphones were sold in Russia for 570 billion rubles.

Against this backdrop, the largest retailers are shifting their focus to other brands, he explains, but the return of Google services could help boost demand. MTS agrees with this.

Subject to active marketing support, Russians' interest in Honor with Google applications will grow, agrees Mobile Research Group analyst Eldar Murtazin. But the brand's abandonment of the AppGallery ecosystem will reduce developer interest in the platform, which could worsen Huawei's already precarious position, he said. If large players like Sberbank and Yandex are likely to remain on the platform, then additional funds will be required to attract small independent developers, the expert said. Previously, Huawei planned to invest over $ 10 million in the development of a mobile system in Russia.

AppGallery already has an audience and partners, developers are interested in making applications for this store, objected Dmitry Pankrushev, director of corporate clients at Redmadrobot. For example, Samsung and Xiaomi already have their own app stores, which use them in parallel with Google Play, he points out, so Honor doesn't have to opt for just one.