What does the mid-range Ideos Android phone do for Huawei? We asked the firm's Nicola Philbin
Huawei? Obscure Chinese infrastructure firm, right? Hard to pronounce. Maker of landfill operator budget phones? Well, cast your prejudices aside and consider the Ideos, which Huawei unveiled two weeks ago.
This sub £100 (in some markets) Android phone supports functions such as voice dialing, voice navigation, and the ability to run applications off the SD card. It's easily the biggest news yet to come out of a device unit that shipped over 90 million units in 2009 globally.
It's a very intriguing launch, crashing into a space with lots of 'proprietary' competition (Nokia 5800 and variants), Samsung Corby, LG Pop etc) but little in the way of Android (HTC Wildfire and Sony Ericsson X10 Mini are a little more pricey). So can it give another shake to the already volatile handset space? We asked Huawei UK's Nicola Philbin...
People think of Huawei as a huge but slightly obscure company. Is that fair?
Well, it certainly is a pretty big organisation. We've been around since 1988, and now have a $21.8bn turnover and 95,000 employees. That makes us the second biggest telco in the world in terms of revenue. We do operate in all spheres of mobile, which we group into four main units: infrastructure, software, devices and services. What runs right across the company though is the commitment to R&D. We spend billions on its every year, and have 17 full time R&D centres.
So now you have announced yourself pretty seriously into the Western handset market with Ideos...
First off, I should stress that Huawei has been in devices since 2003, and we've shipped 90 million units. In Europe these are mostly broadband dongles and white-labelled handsets for operators. So we're not exactly new into the space. In the UK, we've worked with O2 on the E7002 and 3 on the 7510. And in fact, we already have Android devices out there too, with the Vodafone 845 and T-Mobile Mini Pulse. But I accept that Ideos is a little different.
So why now?
I think the time is right for a mid-range Android smartphone. Consumers are demanding it, and pricing is key. The fact that we've been able to get the Ideos out there for £95 to £120 is a very important. Apple has changed the market dynamics, and we want to be first into that entry-level smarthphone market.
You worked with Google on this. How did that work?
We joined the Open Handset Alliance in 2008, so the relationship began then. Working together on Ideos gave us the chance to benefit from Google's expertise and help them co-develop th first mid-range device using the Froyo OS. It's got an amazing set of features including capacitive screen, voice activisation and more.
But there's no Huawei skin, like HTC Sense or Samsing TouchWiz?
No, it's all Google. It was important to us both that the device be easy to upgrade with new versions of the OS and they become available.
And no Huawei App Store?
Just Android Market.
The phone is branded Google and Ideos, but not Huawei. Why is that?
We're very pleased with the Ideos branding, and I suppose Huawei can be a bit of a tongue twister, although we have had phones on the market that use the name. The fact remains though that this is out biggest ever handset launch, and there'll be more announcements soon.