Rebranding, Huawei’s change to survive

Huawei has been released from the black list but its reputation is ruined. Can the Chinese company survive in the mobile device business after that mess?

As every one of us have heard, Huawei was put to the black list of US trade commission. That meant that US companies could not trade with Huawei in any way. It lead to the big headlines about Google banning Huawei and so on. Now the company has been released from the black list and life goes on, or does it?

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It is very hard to understand customers’ reactions to the entire Huawei mess if we think about different regions. In America, Huawei really hasn’t been a big player in smartphone market but a relatively competitive in the network business. Very little Huawei phones have been sold by the carriers and that’s still the way Americans buy their phones. The little market share they had in smartphones, is now gone.

From a European standpoint, Huawei hasn’t changed that much during the debate. The US and China trade war has been going for a while now and for most of us Europeans, the Huawei ban was just a part of that trade war. I personally don’t find Huawei phones that attractive anyway but their two brands, Huawei and Honor have been some of the best selling phones in Europe for the last few years. That trend is unlikely change too much after the Huawei debate is completely over.

However, the way Huawei could turn this into gold, is to rebrand their phones and make some other changes as well. From this point onward, this article doesn’t base on facts but on my personal smartphone preferences. First of all, the rebranding. Huawei has been making phones under the Honor name for a while now, so that name is done. They’ll need to find a new, catching name like Vulcan or Wraith.

They should also drop their own UI and use Google’s Android One as a base. All Huawei’s own extras should be added as applications that could easily be updated and has to yield to same permissions as any other apps. This could win the doubters to their side. Camera app of course is important as Huawei has been known for its great smartphone cameras.

Oh, and as I accidentally just made another Nokia / HMD Global, Huawei’s new brand would differentiate itself by being the first at new technologies, like it has been. Their own SoCs are half a year ahead of their competitors even though they are a bit slower. Their display technologies and especially their product design has been top notch for the last couple of years.

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There are currently no clean Android phones on the flagship market other than the Pixels and maybe the Sony Xperia 1. There used to be some Moto phones and that’s it. Nokia’s 9 was a big disappointment and it is also competing more with the upper mid-rangers like OnePlus 7 or Galaxy S10e. More competition in the clean Android market is better.

5G & Cloud Computing – The duo of the future

I love to speculate. That’s why we are talking about cloud computing and 5G today. Many people have questioned the importance of higher speeds and lower latency than 4G LTE can already provides. I think applications using cloud computing are some of the most interesting things that could benefit from the better network.

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What if you would have nearly unlimited computing power with you all the time?

Cloud computing means that the computing is done somewhere else on someone else’s computer, to put it bluntly. It means that one doesn’t necessarily need to have the world’s most powerful workstation to complete tasks that need massive amounts of computing power.

When the actual computing is done off site, it doesn’t really matter what kind of  device the commands are given from. That makes work less dependent on the end device but more dependent on the network. That’s where the 5G comes in.

Even here in Finland, we usually get only 100 Mb/s LTE speeds with 20 ms ping. That slows down immediately when it rains or many people are connected to the same cell tower. 5G has promising technologies to fix this. In densely lived areas, the 5G towers will be closer together and be able to serve devices from fridges to smartphones and laptops. The latency will be lower and allow better response time to the cloud applications.

Some day the 5G will be able to support big file transfers like video files to be edited on a cloud based computer. That will be a revolution because nowadays ones video editing and rendering speeds are limited by their computer’s performance. In the future the limiting factor will be the network speed.

Video editing could sound distant to some but what about gaming? Google is already bringing their cloud gaming system Stadia later this year and they are not the first. NVIDIA has had their solution available for a while now. Running the game on a remote computer and just streaming the video of the game, is going to make gaming – again – less dependent on the end device but more on the network.

I really don’t have plans to get either, 5G or Stadia just yet but I’ll be following the headlines. 5G and cloud computing will be the duo to follow in the future.

Google Fuchsia – What should it be?

So, Google opened their Fuchsia developer page and it’s time for us to speculate. What should the Fuchsia be from customers standpoint?

There are a very little facts about the Fuchsia right now. Google just opened the developer page at fuchsia.dev but the site barely tells us anything. From Google I/O, we know that the OS should be working on many different kinds of devices and form factors.

Developers, software, applications

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Developers, developers, developers

How ever Google decides to make the apps work, they should work regardless of the form factor or device. Microsoft has got this wrong several times with its Windows Phone and RT systems. If a developer wants to build a great app for the Fuchsia, the app should work on all the form factors from desktop to tablet and smartphone, maybe even on the wearable devices.

The best way to get the developers interested is money. Money interests anyone but there are also other things, like trending languages and ways to create software that would attract developers. More ways to create apps, more apps, more users, more money. It is also probable that Google will promote the web apps that would work on any device like iPhones or Windows computers to generate profit for Google.

However, the cloud computing is growing all the time and it’ll be interesting to see, how Google will want to use that in Fuchsia. Could we see a cloud based video editing app or will the Stadia game streaming system be a big part of the new OS?

Android fragmentation

Android fragmentation is probably one of the most used geek terms on this site. It is used to describe the problem Android has with the older versions dominating the Android distribution chart.

One big task Google has with the Fuchsia is to prevent this kind of fragmentation from happening. It is essential to keep users safe, applications up to date and features widely spread.

Android has developed this problem over the years by leaving the system updates to the manufacturers, not Google. In the last few years, Google has tried to fix this but the cruel fact is that most Android devices are still running older version of Android than the project Treble, and very few manufacturers have updated their older models to support Treble anyway. In Android 10, there will be new features to fix this mess but it’ll still take years for them to reach the majority of the devices.

All this has of course allowed manufacturers to make their own customizations on their Android UI. It’ll be interesting to see how this will be introduced in the Fuchsia, or will the UI be similar on all manufacturers’ devices?

Security 

At this day and age, Google will need to make everything to keep Fuchsia safe. Running the OS on any device and form factor makes it vulnerable for issues that other companies have. For example Microsoft had to fix Windows for multiple times because Intel’s CPUs had big vulnerabilities.

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This is continuity to the fragmentation part because there must be a fast way to deploy these security updates when necessary. Our part is just to hope that Google isn’t trying to swallow a too big of a bite.

IoT integration

Wether we ask it or not, everything is going to be connected to the internet. You can already buy fridges and microwave ovens that are connected to the internet. Everything else is to follow. Creating a new operating system and skipping IoT would be foolish.

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Most likely, Google is going to add their own IoT control environment to the Fuchsia. That’ll be another interesting thing to follow.

Device management for enterprises

One thing where Google is way behind Apple and Samsung, is mobile device management. From enterprises standpoint, it’s quite easy to buy Samsung and Apple phones and manage them via Knox or Apple DEP / MDM. Although Google is trying to catch up, it’s going to take time before Google’s solution will be the number one solution for most companies.

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That’s why I hope that Google is taking this seriously and creates a full on management system for all devices from desktops to smartphones and company cars. The management system should have everything from AD to remote connections, software deployment and remote device actions. This is an enormous task that Microsoft has worked years and years to improve.

The enterprise market could do with a competitor. Easiest way for Google to start is to make the device management better than any competition on the market with a competitive price tag. That would get them more customers and resources to create the full on server ecosystem.

 

I’ll just hope all the best for the Fuchsia project and wait impatiently writing these speculations.

The state of mobile tech and Superzeppo

It has been way too long since I have updated this site. There are several reasons to that but those are not my talking points today.

 

Getting stuck in old technology is easy. All you need is way too good tech that you don’t want to get rid of. 

I have pretty much always been an early adopter. I was very early with my Nexus 10 purchase and I’ve used a WearOS Watch since the first Huawei Watch came available. Since then however, I have slowed down with my upgrades to a point that I feel like I’m Google, coming a generation behind.

The fact that I’m using a Google phone is not helping. The Pixel 3 XL that’s my main smartphone, was a generation behind the trends with it’s huge notch and single camera. Still I got one. Am I getting old?

Last year, I bought a Note9 and I kind of liked it at first. Although, after a while, I started to feel the worse sides of Samsung’s mobile UI. There were duplicates of all Google apps and the camera was just outright bad for my liking compared to my old Pixel 2 that I had back then. I decided to feel old and go back to Pixel.

Conservatism in mobile tech is what sells

You can see what Apple is doing. They may have the best SoC and video recording but everywhere else they are behind their Android competitors. Still Apple sells their iPhone 7 and 8 models like crazy and they are not slowing down. The iPhone 8 from 2017 is basically an iPhone 6 with a better SoC. Still it sells.

Have you tried the new swiping navigation on either iPhone or Android? It’s awful. You feel like dropping your phone and navigation is way slower than on a traditional three button navigation on Android. Normal people unlike me and probably you, are not interested in new ways to drop your phone which the new home gesture is.

Normal people also don’t want to get a mortgage to buy a phone. That’s another reason why older models sell.

Innovation is still needed

I’m not saying that the new technologies are not needed or the smartphone tech has reached its peak. The expensive new technology always dribbles down to the more affordable devices and at some point every one of us do have a notch and a swiping navigation.

However, at that point the early adopters are using the next generation of foldable phones. The first gen seems to be priced just for the richest of the geeks and with the issues that Samsung and Huawei are having, probably won’t make Google and Apple rush their foldables out.

The smartphone market is going to be very interesting soon. I’ll try to keep this blog updated with my thoughts on the current and future tech.