China’s Huawei rides Google coattails into new markets after pair team up on premium Nexus phablet

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 October, 2015, 2:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 October, 2015, 2:07pm

With a partnership to make one of Google’s flagship Nexus smartphones, Chinese tech giant Huawei is gaining new prominence which could help its efforts to win broader global consumer appeal.

Huawei was tapped this week to produce the Nexus 6P, one of two handsets unveiled this week by Google to showcase its Android mobile operating system.

The large-screen “phablet” was unveiled as a rival to the iPhone 6S Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note. A second Google phone, the Nexus 5X, will be made by South Korea’s LG.

At a time when Chinese firms are struggling to break the dominance of Apple and Samsung on the high end of the smartphone market, the partnership is a milestone for Huawei.

“Clearly, working with Google is vote of confidence in the technology of the product,” said Ian Fogg, senior director at the consultancy IHS Technology.

Fogg said the Nexus devices “are intended to be showcases of the best of Android technology, and are designed to be seen as innovation leaders. That’s an incredibly valuable association to have.”

The deal with Google “opens up a route into the US market to raise visibility for Huawei smartphones,” Fogg noted.

“Huawei will be particularly pleased if this can be a bridgehead into the US market.”

Fogg said that this also helps Google, which is largely absent from China, should the US company decide to dive back into the large market.

“In its home market of China, Huawei has both mobile operator relationships as well as its own expertise in selling smartphones direct to consumers,” Fogg said.

Huawei has been selling some unlocked high-end devices direct to US and European consumers, and has a share of the prepaid, low-end smartphone market along with Chinese rival ZTE.

But Huawei and other Chinese makers have generally lacked the appeal of Apple and Samsung for high-end smartphone customers.

The association with Google “provides a brand boost for Huawei,” noted Avi Greengart, who follows mobile technology at the research firm Current Analysis.

“If you are buying a Nexus phone and it has a Chinese brand prominently displayed, that’s definitely a positive.”

Greengart noted that consumers will be looking at more options now that many US carriers are “unbundling” the service from the device.