Huawei eyes move into Windows Phone handsets

The Chinese infrastructure and handset giant will 'probably' follow its rival ZTE into the Windows Phone business in 2012, Huawei's chief marketing officer said while detailing the company's 'cloud-pipe device' strategy

Huawei is likely to follow its rival ZTE into the Windows Phone business, the company's chief marketing officer said on Friday.

Huawei HQ China

The Chinese company has said it will 'probably' follow rival ZTE's move into producing Windows Phone handsets. Photo credit: David Meyer

According to Victor Xu, Chinese infrastructure and handset giant Huawei is currently "just watching" the development of the Windows Phone 7 market, but has "had some discussions with Microsoft" and will "probably" release a device in 2012 using the smartphone platform.

ZTE revealed its own Windows Phone intentions on Tuesday, when Microsoft detailed the upcoming 'Mango' update to Windows Phone 7. ZTE and Huawei are strong rivals both within China and globally, where they dominate the markets for mobile broadband and for operator-branded low-end smartphones.

The entry of ZTE into the manufacturing of Windows Phones makes it more likely that the platform will become available on cheaper phones than at present.

Xu was in London to give details of Huawei's strategy to UK media, and he explained how the company intends to combine cloud-based services with its infrastructure and device lines. He said this combination will allow the company to offer operators enhanced management capabilities, while also bringing down the cost of low-end smartphones.

'Cloud-pipe device' strategy

This "cloud-pipe-device" strategy would decrease the need for smartphones to have high-end processing power, as the processing could be done in the cloud, Xu said. He added that this strategy is contingent on the use of high-bandwidth '4G' LTE. "Hardware costs will be increasingly decreased" for Huawei with the adoption of the strategy, he noted.

The strategy will also let Huawei "help operators solve the problem of digital flooding", Xu continued, explaining that its portfolio of network infrastructure and terminals will help carriers manage their "smart pipe".

Xu said Huawei was in discussions with the likes of Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica to make it easier for those operators to offer tiered services. They would be able to prioritise or deprioritise some kinds of services — VoIP was an example, he agreed — over others. He said the use of such tiering was "business logic".

Huawei can even offer deep-packet inspection (DPI) to help operators tier their services, Xu said, although he conceded that such techniques could only be used in countries that give regulatory approval. EU countries, for example, do not allow DPI if it violates privacy and data protection laws.

In addition, Huawei is preparing to step up its own-brand efforts in the UK this year, according to Xu. The company generally sells its devices to operators that then resell them under operator branding. However, the marketing executive said Huawei will "expand to the open channel" and "co-operate with retailers and distributors this year".

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