Huawei shelves Windows Phone plans, will use Android to challenge Samsung, Apple

Number three smartphone maker says Android offers more opportunity for vendors to do something different.
Written by Steve Ranger, Global News Director

Smartphone maker Huawei has put its plans for Windows Phone devices on hold, saying it will use Android to try to challenge the dominance of Samsung and Apple.

Huawei is perhaps best known for building telecoms infrastructure but has been moving increasingly into the consumer hardware space. The company is now the third-biggest smartphone maker behind Samsung and Apple, with its Ascend range of devices among its best-known products.

In an interview at Huawei's headquarters in Shenzhen, China, Huawei's consumer business group marketing director Shao Yang said that while the company had built Windows Phone devices in the past, they were hard to sell and Huawei has now suspended plans to use the operating system.

"For us we think Android is the best choice," he said. "The biggest problem is that Windows is not quite easy to develop independently... a lot of things are defined by Windows [and] they leave a very small space for vendors to develop."

In contrast, he said, with Android phones "every vendor has their own potential to make... innovation".

Back in March, Shao said the company was working on a phone that would dual-boot both Windows Phone and Android, but the project has been shelved.

Huawei summed up its position in a statement today, also revealing it won't be developing on the Samsung-backed Tizen platform: "Open source and web-based platforms like those provided by Tizen and Google are good collaboration opportunities for key industry players.

"At Huawei, we have a strategic relationship with Google and will continue to participate on this platform and work closely with industry partners to bring the hardware and software innovation that best meet the needs of consumers and further develop the mobile ecosystem that users are after. There are no current plans to work on the Tizen platform. We are putting any releases of new Windows phones on hold."

ZDNet has asked Microsoft for comment and will update this story if it receives any.

While Huawei is a relatively new entrant to the mobile market, it has been growing fast. In 2010, the year it launched its first smartphone, its device shipments were three million, which rose to 20 million smartphones in 2011, 32 million in 2012, and in 2013 hit 52m. Shao said Huawei smartphone shipments this year are likely to reach 90 million.

In the first half of 2014 Huawei shipped 64.2m mobile device, 34.2 million were smartphones — an increase of 62 percent on the year before.

Shao said that in the second quarter of this year the company's share of the smartphone market hit 6.9 percent — two percent higher than the number four ranked vendor. According to analysts at IDC, Samsung has around 25 percent market share, compared to Apple's 12 percent.

"We believe we can be a challenger for the tier one, for Apple and Samsung," he said.

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