A few weeks ago, Microsoft announced that it had signed up nine new hardware partners to join Windows Phone, including Lenovo and LG. But as new manufacturers begin to support the platform, not everyone is happy with how things have gone with Windows Phone so far.
Huawei was one of the four launch partners - alongside Samsung, HTC and Nokia - for the rebooted Windows Phone 8 which débuted in 2012. But as Nokia has come to dominate the platform, with over 90% share of WP sales, Huawei remains an infinitesimal fish in Windows Phone’s tiny pond.
Having released just two lower-end Windows Phones in the last eighteen months, Huawei’s commitment to the platform hasn’t exactly been wholehearted – and that seems unlikely to change, for now. Last month, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, wpxbox.com spoke with Shao Yang, chief marketing officer at Huawei Device, in an interview that has only been published in the last few days.
The site shared highlights of the interview focusing specifically on the company's Windows Phone plans, and it seems that Huawei is not the platform's biggest fan. When asked if the company plans to release a new handset, or if it is still ‘watching the market’, the executive seemed almost to ignore the question, instead listing three problems with Microsoft’s mobile OS:
In Windows Phone, there is one problem: that it has more licensing costs than Android. That increases the price of the phone by 10%. So that’s one block point of Windows. The second block is the ecosystem.
The third and major block point is that Windows Phone is not so open as Android, which blocks a vendor [from making] their own innovations. The result of the last block is that all Windows Phones look too similar, and it is hard to differentiate different brands from each other.”
When it comes to cost, at least, there may be some relief for Huawei's purse. Microsoft has reportedly waived the OS licensing fees for two Indian OEMs, fueling speculation that the company plans to drop these charges entirely with Windows Phone 8.1. Microsoft recently confirmed that it is reducing licensing costs for low-cost Windows tablets, which appears to support the notion that Windows Phone licensing may be dramatically reduced in price, or removed completely.
Shao complained too that Nokia has had an unfair advantage so far, giving rise to a situation that will only continue when Microsoft’s purchase of the company’s device business goes through:
When Microsoft and Nokia combine, it will be even harder to open the API[s]. That will not make the competition fair… The problem is the API[s] and customization are not available equally for all. Initially, all phone makers started with Windows Phone, but only Nokia had exclusive access to some of the API[s]. Now, with Nokia gone into Microsoft, the problem still remains the same.”
It sounds like Huawei has little love for Windows Phone, especially compared with its much greater focus on Android handsets. But one interesting titbit from the interview puts the company’s sentiments into some context: according to Shao, Huawei has sold only around 100,000 of each of its two Windows Phones.