Huawei has no time for Windows Phone or Tizen

Jane McEntegart

August 25, 2014 1:00pm

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked a lot about Windows Phone and the challenge manufacturers face in trying to make the OS appealing for consumers (check out episodes eight and nine of the SyrupCast if you missed it). Now, Huawei’s Richard Yu has told the Wall Street Journal that this is exactly the reason Huawei is no longer selling Windows Phone smartphones.

“We have tried using the Windows Phone OS. But it has been difficult to persuade consumers to buy a Windows phone,” Yu told the paper. “It wasn’t profitable for us. We were losing money for two years on those phones. So for now we’ve decided to put any releases of new Windows phones on hold.”

Yu goes on to say that even though Huawei has “worries” about Android being the only option, he feels they have no choice. When asked about Tizen, Yu said he shut down previous plans to explore the new OS, which Samsung has delayed indefinitely due to a scarcity of apps. Similarly, requests from carriers to design Tizen phones have been met with a resounding “no.”

“We feel Tizen has no chance to be successful,” he said. “Even for Windows Phone it’s difficult to be successful.”

The article in the Wall Street Journal represents Microsoft’s chicken-and-egg problem with Windows Phone. The company needs to convince manufacturers that Windows Phone is a viable option and worth developing handsets for. That’s not an easy task, and it might be even harder now that third party manufacturers are competing with Microsoft’s own hardware department, which arrived courtesy of the Nokia acquisition.

As if that weren’t a difficult task on its own, compounding the issue is the fact that a huge part of getting manufacturers on board is proving there’s a demand for Windows Phone devices. Unfortunately, as market share limps along and the option for Windows Phone devices looks increasingly like Nokia or nothing, users don’t have a whole lot of choice and therefore very little desire to jump on board the Windows Phone train.

Microsoft’s decision to drop Windows Phone licensing costs should help with the first part of the problem. Meanwhile, HTC’s return to the Windows Phone space means smartphone shoppers now have a great looking flagship Windows Phone that didn’t come from Nokia. As all of this is happening, Windows Phone is improving in quality and stability. While the OS still lacks vital apps, Cortana is filling in gaps created by Google Now and Siri.

  • Jeff

    Hard to compete against the Android and iOS juggernauts. If Windows Phone OS and BB 10 OS, which are both quite good, are unable to gain traction then nothing else will.

    • Cormang

      WP is gaining lots of traction in many parts of the world. The problem is the markets in which Huawei operates are dominated by cheap Android handsets. Such domination for a specific mobile OS creates localized app scarcity on other platforms. The same was true with Windows and OSX a long time ago. As time progresses, WP will make the progress that’s needed.

    • Jeff

      Perhaps, although IDC shows Windows Phone losing market share… … I still find both BB and Windows app markets….lacking.

    • TomsDisqusted

      These companies that missed the boat vs. iOS and Android shouldn’t try to recreate them, but should figure out what the next big thing is and focus on that. For example, Samsung should forget about Tizen and focus on stuff like wearables and virtual reality (which they bought into recently).

  • deltatux

    If they were aggressive with their OS updates, they would have been a lot more successful. I rather like the Huawei Ascend W1 but it’s forever stuck on Windows Phone 8 GDR 1. They also never made any premium Windows Phone devices either.

    • Cormang

      Agreed. Although they showed promise they never delivered. Why would they expect to sell any devices when they’re not supported?

  • Jeff Brassard

    It is worth noting that according to Paul Thurrott of the Supersite for Windows, Microsoft has signed up as many as 14 new OEMs since they dropped the licensing costs. Now most of these are Indian and Chinese companies but there are a could in the US and Europe too (Blu for example is making a phone line called the Billy based on Windows Phone 8.1. They should be coming out in the next few months. That probably won’t help Canadians, but it might help build Windows Phone’s momentum a bit.

    Check out these links to see Paul’s reporting and analysis… its good stuff. Nokia might be virtually the only maker of Windows Phones right now, but that should change in the coming months.


  • Did they sell a phone in Canada? If you don’t have it available for consumers how are we to know its there to buy it?

  • saqrkh

    I can see where OEMs such as Huawei are coming from. Whereas Microsoft and Google can readily use hardware to push services (which are increasingly becoming their sources of revenue), Huawei et. al only have their hardware.

    If you’re aiming to make a profit with your handsets, you’ll probably feel less inclined to add to your costs in terms of marketing, higher-end phones, exclusive apps and services, etc.

    That said, if the handful of markets where WP is gaining some traction actually became permanent WP-zones (just as North America is a permanent iOS zone), I can see OEMs – including Huawei – making a noticeable push with Windows Phone in those markets.

    India would probably be the first place where this could happen soon. The apps are actually coming in (at the same time if not *before* Android and iOS), hardware choice is growing (most of the new players to join WP are Indian, e.g. Karbonn, Micromax, etc), and Microsoft seems to have some level of brand respect there that it lacks in North America.