The Nexus 6P, the result of Huawei and Google’s collaboration, was critically well-reviewed — so why is it that this year HTC is producing Google’s newest handsets, the Pixel and Pixel XL?
A recent report from Android Police sheds light on the matter. Drawing from a conversation with a source “familiar with Huawei’s operations” the report offers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of Huawei and Google’s slightly tumultuous relationship and the events that led up to the OEM passing up what could’ve been a golden opportunity.
6P collaboration didn’t meet expectations
According to the source, the Nexus 6P, despite being well-reviewed, fell far short of Huawei’s expectations. Initially, Google had sold Huawei on the concept of producing its flagship device by suggesting that it would be sold by all four major carriers, providing a powerful entry into the U.S. market for the Chinese manufacturer. It was also reportedly planned that the two brands would embark on a multi-hundred million dollar ad campaign, with each side matching the other’s investment.
Neither of these things ended up happening, of course. Google’s talks with carriers broke down, and the 6P and LG-made 5X never made it to the shelves of a major US carrier — though it did make it to all three major Canadian telecoms in November 2015.
Shortly after that slightly disappointing launch, Google approached Huawei about producing its 2016 smartphone portfolio, according to the source, which at that time included a third device that was later nixed. However, Google came to the table with one hard-and-fast requisite: the devices would feature only Google branding. Apparently, Huawei’s global CEO Richard Yu then ended negotiations immediately, and HTC ended up winning the bid.
However, Google came to the table with one hard-and-fast requisite: the devices would feature only Google branding. Apparently, Huawei’s global CEO Richard Yu then ended negotiations immediately, and HTC ended up winning the bid.
Huawei’s North American future
The irony is that unlike the 6P, the Pixel devices will likely be sold at all major U.S. carriers. Manufacturing the device could have been a major building block for Huawei, which is still struggling to make a successful entrance into the North American market.
In fact, things have been in flux according to the source, with much of the company’s Honor U.S. team being fired following poor sales reception to the Honor 8 smartphone.
Additionally, a planned Huawei has been pushed back pending the release of Android Wear 2.0 and the Mate 9 handset is expected to be revealed in Germany, indicating the U.S. won’t be a prime demographic.
However, it’s not all bad news. According to the source, the relationship between Google and Huawei “remains strong,” with the two companies continuing to pursue projects together. In particular, Huawei is reportedly being solicited by Google to produce a mid-range device for the second half of 2017.