Huawei recently unveiled its new Mate 30 Series smartphones, comprising the Mate 30, Mate 30 Pro, and Mate 30 Lite.
The company was expected to launch the Mate 30 Pro device in South Africa soon after the international announcement, as its previous-generation Mate 10 Pro and Mate 20 Pro smartphones performed well in the local market.
This plan was impeded by the trade war between the US and China, however, which resulted in Huawei being unable to implement licensed Google apps or the Google Mobile Services (GMS) ecosystem on the device.
Huawei subsequently opted to launch the phone in China, where it does not rely on Google apps to deliver the same level of consumer experience, and it has delayed the South African launch of the smartphone.
Speaking in an interview with MyBroadband, Huawei CBG South Africa general manager Likun Zhao confirmed that the roll-out of the Mate 30 Pro in South Africa has been postponed.
Ecosystem and flagships
“We have postponed the sale of the Huawei Mate 30 Pro in South Africa,” Zhao said. “This smartphone works on Huawei’s ecosystem and open-source Android, and from our side, we don’t think the ecosystem is ready.”
The Mate 30 Pro still runs Android, but it uses the open-source version of the operating system which does not include Google Mobile Services or licensed Google apps.
Huawei said that it is working on integrating major applications with its own Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) ecosystem, which it said should be ready by the time its next P Series flagship smartphones are launched.
“The decision we made on this product will confirm our commitment to South Africa,” said Huawei CBG South Africa CTO Akhram Mohamed. “It’s not that we are not bringing it because we cannot.”
“We have made a conscious decision to make a sacrifice on this product as a business and put the priority on user experience, because although there are ways to make it work, it’s not going to be that native solution that our customers have become used to.”
“If the situation with Google and the US is resolved, we will revert to GMS and update the operating system,” he said.
“For now, we need one of two things – the device needs to be operating as it used to on Google’s platform, or we have an alternative that works just as well.”
Huawei said that it is committed to providing South Africans with devices which will provide the best user experience possible, and cited this as a reason for not bringing its Huawei Mate 30 Pro smartphone to the country while its HMS ecosystem was not fully developed.
“We are hoping to launch our ecosystem by the next flagship launch,” Mohamed said. “Right now, that is our target and we are headstrong that it is going to happen.”
In simple terms, when it does comes to South Africa, the Mate 30 Pro will launch with either an HMS or GMS-powered Android operating system, depending on whether the US ban is revoked before the company completes work on its ecosystem.
Apps and local development
Huawei’s global team is working with developers to migrate popular consumers apps in the category of WhatsApp and Facebook to its HMS platform, and Zhao said the local branch of the company will be working with South African developers to the same effect.
“South Africa is a valuable market for Huawei, and we will continue to invest and maintain our presence in the country,” Zhao said. “Our strategy is to build a local ecosystem by cooperating with local partners to enhance the advantage of the Huawei ecosystem.”
“Right now, app integration with the platform is already happening,” Mohamed added. “It’s not like you have to create an entire new suite of applications to run on Huawei’s ecosystem.”
“The device is still running an open-source version of Android; you just need the API integration which lets apps talk to our system without GSM core.”
Huawei plans to help local developers build applications for its HMS platform that could see widespread adoption, both in South Africa and in other markets.
The company said developers are welcome to contact the company if they are working on a mobile app they would like to launch in the South African market, adding that it will provide local coders with the tools and resources to launch and market their app on Huawei’s platform.
“We will be committed to local developer partnerships regardless of whether we switch back to GMS or not,” Mohamed said. “At a global level, the team is working on bringing the most popular consumers applications to HMS.”
“We are focusing on local, homegrown applications.”