Huawei is bringing its upcoming P40 flagship smartphones to South Africa, which will run Android with Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) core.
This means that underlying Google services present on previous-generation devices will not be available on these smartphones, and will instead be replaced by Huawei’s own solutions.
Speaking in an interview with MyBroadband, Huawei South Africa CBG vice president Likun Zhao and Huawei South Africa CTO Akhram Mohamed allayed customer concerns about the availability of apps on these new devices.
“Many people are thinking that basic services are not going to be functional – that’s not true,” Mohamed said.
Users will still be able to access services such as Gmail, YouTube, Chrome, Google Search, and more – just not through the pre-loaded apps and native integration which they have become used to on previous Huawei devices.
Education and support
“The difference for consumers is that your app repository, which used to be Play Store, is no longer there,” Mohamed said. “You now get your apps from AppGallery.”
“This is the education step that needs to start taking place, where a customer needs to make that adjustment. User experience has been our number one priority, and that is why we kept everything the same.”
Zhao said that Huawei plans to rapidly scale its service points across the country to address any potential issues customers will have with the new HMS-powered Android devices.
“For the sales of the HMS smartphones, we want to be transparent to our consumers,” Zhao said. “We must inform consumers that this is a different application experience for them and ask them to make the choice.”
“In South African malls, we only have five service stores,” he added. “But for the HMS smartphones, we think that, in the first phase, some consumers could face software issues or have difficulty understanding the ecosystem.”
“So, we will start another service plan. We want to expand our service points from six to 150, with a service point in every top mall.”
This means that after a customer buys an HMS Android smartphone, they can take it to any of these service points and receive free support for software and application issues.
Mohamed said that the concerns customers have over HMS are not major, but Huawei has accounted for each of them ahead of the launch of its first HMS Android devices.
“We want customers to know we are here for them,” he said. “We see that if a customer moves onto HMS, the experience is going to be the same – as it’s still Android – but not every application may be on AppGallery, because we are still building the ecosystem.”
“We need consumers to know that we are there if you have a problem. If you are sitting at home and you are struggling with something, there is a direct chat line dedicated to these issues. All of this what is coming to support customers who buy HMS devices.”
Mohamed said that Huawei had the South African customers covered before with its transparent communication around the time of the initial entity listing, and it will continue to do so.
“We said that if we felt that HMS is not ready for the South African market, we will not launch – and we did just that,” he said.
“The Mate 30 Pro launched globally, and we did not launch it here. When people were concerned about the ban and its effect on existing devices, we assured South Africans that it would not affect the P30 range, and we kept our promise.”
“Now that we are saying that HMS is coming and we feel confident to launch these devices in South Africa, you can trust that we mean it,” he said.
He said that South African customers can go into a store and buy a new Huawei smartphone with HMS Android knowing that Huawei will be there to provide support and help them wherever possible.
“We have proved that you can trust us before. Now again, trust us when we say, we’ve got you covered.”