China’s Huawei joins Germany’s Leica in bid to reinvent smartphone photography

Alliance with German optics giant part of strategy to differentiate Huawei’s Android smartphones from other Chinese brands

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 February, 2016, 6:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 February, 2016, 6:26pm

Huawei Technologies, the largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer in China, is teaming up with Germany’s Leica Camera in a new initiative that they claim will reinvent smartphone photography.

The two companies said in a joint announcement on Thursday that the partnership will include combined research and development, design, engineering, marketing and retail distribution.

No investment details were given on those activities, but speculation has been rife that Leica Camera plans to soon enter the smartphone market with a device made by Huawei.

“Smartphones make a very important contribution to the world of photography and open an important door for Leica to new target groups and fields of application,” Leica Camera chief executive Oliver Kaltner said.

“The technology partnership with Huawei offers Leica Camera an excellent opportunity to introduce its proven optical expertise into a new product segment and to unlock exciting business areas in the field of mobile devices.”

The alliance with the prestigious German optics and digital imaging giant would appear to benefit Shenzhen-based Huawei in its bid to differentiate its Android smartphones from those of other Chinese mobile device brands.

Data from technology research firm IDC showed that Huawei was the third-largest global smartphone supplier last year, behind Samsung Electronics and Apple and ahead of Lenovo Group and Xiaomi.

It said Huawei, with shipments of 106.6 million smartphones last year, became the fourth mobile phone supplier in history to ship more than 100 million such devices in a year after Nokia, Samsung and Apple.

Richard Yu Chengdong, the chief executive at Huawei’s consumer business group, said the collaboration with Leica Camera brings to its wide customer base “the best elements of two expert brands in harmony: combining innovation and design”.

A Huawei spokesman said the company started collaborating with Leica Camera more than a year ago to address the premium segment of the smartphone industry.