HUAWEI and the South African consumer


The Huawei trade ban with all US companies – software providers and hardware manufacturers – namely Google for software, is a big deal for the South African consumer who currently owns a Huawei device or was thinking of buying one.

According to Statcounter, Huawei commands a total 22.9% of South Africa’s mobile device market share, overtaking Apple which is sitting at 14.87% and just short of Samsung’s 43.71% lead. This is for the period May 2018 – May 2019.

Google’s Operating System (Also known as Android OS) is the most preferred Operating System in South Africa, over Apple’s iOs and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile. I think that this is largely due to the fact that Android can be found on low-end devices to prestige gadgets, in South Africa. Unlike iOS. Plus it’s versatile, unlike Windows Mobile.

What does this mean for you though and why Google?

Well, Google owns the Android OS. Let’s pause for a moment, I need make sure my Mom gets this one.

Mom, your phone is made up of two things, hardware and software. Hardware is what you are holding in your hand and it is anything inside your phone that can be physically touched. Software is what you can only touch with your eyes when you use your phone. It’s what you see when your screen is switched on.

Okay now, back to Google; without Android OS working or updated in Huawei devices many people may not be able to access updated services such as – Google Maps, Play Store, GMAIL, Google Movies, Google Drive etc.

What do we know so far?

  • Around the 12th of June this year, Huawei filed a trademark for their own Operating System called #HongMeng or Huawei OAK.
  • There are speculations that this Operating System will be launched before the end of 2019.
  • There is no clear end in sight, as to when the ban will be lifted.

The good news
For current owners of Huawei devices. This week Huawei announced that;

Anyone who has already bought, or is about to buy a Huawei smartphone, can continue to access the world of apps as they have always done. All devices continue to be covered by our manufacturer’s warranty and will receive full service support accordingly.

In addition to that, all Huawei smartphones and tablets will continue to receive security patches and Android updates. Their most popular current devices, including the P30 series, will be able to access Android Q. In fact, Huawei stated that they’ve already launched a beta developer programme for Android Q which is running right now on their Mate 20 Pro device. They sound organised beloved, especially after the May 19 announcement.

The catch: to buy or not to buy

When Google first launched its Android operated device, the HTC Dream, I bought it. Yes, I confess, I am a reformed First Generation Adaptor. In hind-sight the purchase was not a wise move, because the Operating System was new and I’d practically exposed myself to every error and pain it had. I won’t lie, the phone was a great option away from the Motorola Razr and Motorola V360 frenzy at the time (Motorola, Samsung, Nokia, Ericsson etc. all operated on Symbian OS). After experiencing Android for the first time, I just couldn’t go back to Symbian operated devices.

The point. If Huawei decides to launch their Operating System, as a user, you must be prepared to be inconvenienced by errors, updates, crashes, hacks etc. Plus you will have your privacy invaded, it’s the only way they can improve. Also, how the company decides to do the roll-out is very important. If they decide to launch the Operating System on some of their newer existing devices on the market, you may be the current owner of an “older” device that may not be eligible for migration to their new system, due to obsolete hardware. This will leave you with the burden of either buying a new phone altogether or staying with a useless smartphone, remember the death of Blackberry in 2016.

The second point. In today’s world, Operating System swaps come with heavy data migration, which means that your personal information may be exposed to harsher threats like external Malware aimed at stealing or destroying your data during the migration. But on the other hand, as a first generation user, Huawei may add incentives, which would entice you to stay with them as they improve. That’s the first thing you need to think about before you decide stay with the company or migrate to another.

But in addition to all this, I am one of those people who seriously believe that Huawei’s new Operating System is already running in the back-end of some of their devices. This would be safest and most sensible option of testing a system like that, globally, without attracting attention. Taking into consideration that the Android OS stock User-Interface (UI) can be manipulated by device manufacturers.

Lastly, if you do decide move to another cellphone supplier, this is now the best time to shop for specials. Companies like Samsung, Asus, Nokia, Sony and Hi-Sense are my recommendations due to their variety and immediate access to their service centers. But be careful of being over charged by retailers because they know that you are desperate for a new device.  As for Apple and its iOS, in my view they lack product variety and flexibility and frankly speaking they are over priced for nothing, especially in South Africa. That’s a conversation for another day.

Was this helpful? Let know your thoughts.

About Anele Matshisi
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