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Huawei's more affordable sub-brand Honor showcased its MagicBook Pro laptop at IFA 2020 in Berlin this month. Photo: Jamie Carter

Shared laptops are the latest sharing economy idea from Huawei’s Honor, with doorstep delivery through Meituan

  • The Honor MagicBook can be rented out from shops during a limited promotion over China’s week-long holiday starting on National Day
  • Users in Beijing can have a MagicBook delivered through Meituan’s food delivery app

The personal computer just got a little less personal. China, already known as the capital of shared bikes and power banks, will soon launch the first shared laptop scheme thanks to a limited promotion from Huawei’s sub-brand Honor.

Honor is best known for its affordable line of smartphones, but it also has a budget laptop brand called MagicBook. This is the laptop that people will be able to borrow during China’s upcoming national holiday that runs from October 1 to 8, the company announced on Sunday. The laptops will be available at Honor stores or can be delivered through Meituan in Beijing.

Huawei did not respond to questions about whether the sharing scheme might be extended.

This could be an opportunity for Honor to promote the MagicBook brand. Honor just unveiled the new MagicBook Pro at IFA 2020 electronics show in Berlin earlier this month.

The scheme is primarily targeting office workers who prefer not to carry around their laptops while travelling. The national holiday, which commemorates the establishment of the People‘s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, is a busy travel season in China. Last year, people in the country made 782 million domestic tourism trips that week.

According to the announcement, users will be able to work with personal files stored on their smartphones by connecting the phone directly to the laptop. This will keep people from having to transfer files to the laptop’s hard drive and transferring them back after editing.

Honor, known mainly for its affordable smartphones, announced a new shared laptop scheme for its MagicBook brand. Photo: Handout

While most people looking to take advantage of this programme will have to go pick the laptop up themselves, people in Beijing will have the option of having it delivered to their door. Honor partnered with Meituan Dianping, China’s popular food delivery service, which has expanded into on-demand delivery for a range of products.

Meituan previously worked with Huawei to deliver smartphones during Covid-19 lockdowns. It has also been involved with China’s sharing economy for years.
Most notably, it bought the bike-sharing start-up Mobike in 2018. Mobike was one of the few brands to survive the implosion of bike-sharing bubble in 2018, along with Ofo.

The story of Ofo is one of the wildest rides in China’s tech history

Before that, China’s bike-sharing boom inspired entrepreneurs to launch a variety of companies dedicated to shared products, with varying degrees of success. Shared power banks became one of the more successful ideas. Shared umbrellas, on the other hand, were never widely adopted, although some companies are now revisiting the idea.
The sharing economy also gave rise to the popularity of certain shared services. With a tap on a smartphone, people can now try out shared karaoke booths, massage chairs and even make-up booths.
But the sharing economy has taken a hit during the pandemic. Although bike sharing got a boost as commuters sought to avoid crowded public transport, other services have not fared as well. Now that pandemic concerns have started to subside in China, Honor’s new laptop sharing scheme could test how comfortable people still are with the idea of the sharing economy in general.