Google Gains on Apple in China with Android Win

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on December 10, 2008

In the race to win acceptance for its smart phone worldwide, Google is gaining ground on Apple. Steve Jobs and Co. still don’t have the iPhone in China, after talks with the country’s largest cellular operator, China Mobile, stalled. (See this BusinessWeek story I wrote back in January.) While there are rumors Apple might break through next year, Google is making concrete gains. The company has just gained an important new Chinese partner, Huawei Technologies, the biggest Chinese telecom equipment manufacturer, which late this afternoon announced it will be coming out with smart phones using the Android operating system backed by the search giant.

Huawei, with over $13 billion in sales last year, has been branching out from its traditional strength in networking equipment, making cellular handsets for companies like Vodafone. Teaming up with Google on the Android fits with the company’s goal of beefing up its credibility as a top-tier global player. “Currently, we’re developing smart phones on the Android platform, which we plan to launch in 2009,” Li Jilin, Huawei Communication’s vice president said in a press statement. “We believe that the Android platform will transform the mobile life experience for users around the world. Huawei is dedicated to playing an important role in this transformation.”

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Reader Comments

Xcplanet

December 10, 2008 04:18 PM

Where's the beef?? Talk about fluff, this piece is absolutely irrelevant. How does Google finding a hardware manufacturer equate to gaing on Apple? It doesn't matter how much hardware you've got if you don't have a provider. Let's say this development puts Google in a position to try to compete.

anon

December 10, 2008 05:45 PM

Google is not competing with apple. I imagin the headline gathered more clicks with both names in there thoug. Sad.

Andi

December 10, 2008 08:34 PM

I hope this phone is coming to other Asian market.

Bruce Einhorn

December 10, 2008 08:52 PM

Point taken, Xcplanet, that Huawei is just a hardware maker and the Google-backed Android phone will still need to find a provider in China. But don't you think the backing from Huawei, probably the most important tech company in China, will make that job a whole lot easier? If Apple had teamed up with a company like Huawei to make the iPhone, I suspect Apple would have made a deal by now with a Chinese operator.

Dan B

December 10, 2008 10:13 PM

How much is Google charging Huawei for licensing Android? Oh $0. Huawei, HTC and many OEMs are going to take Android at that price point. And who really loses out? Windows Mobile and Symbian. Your headline should read Google gains on Microsoft and Nokia in China. Yet Apple's OSX on iPhone sets the standard and Apple will continue to capture and grow smartphone share in China.

Apple will have an official iPhone in PRC in 2009 and there will likely be two deals - Q1 TD iPhone 3G (supporting TD-SCDMA) with China Mobile and in Q3 an iPhone for China Unicom.

http://idannyb.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/official-iphone-3g-in-china-coming-soon-we-think-so/

BeijingMan

December 10, 2008 11:19 PM

Interesting point is what kind of user-interface HuaWei will bring with their Android.

China is difficult market for iPhone, browsing MobileMe (.Mac) content has been blocked since April. When that changes, iPhone for China is near.

Nik

December 12, 2008 11:43 AM

Bruce

Most of iPhone components are anyway made in China or Taiwan. Foxconn, even though not Chinese company, operates many plants in China to get Apple products going. How do you think that impacts anything that Apple does in China. Your point being one state owned company backing it will provide advantage to Google to get Android going is good, but flawed. Key point being, Google does not make hardware and it's software has yet to pass the consumer's tastes. Also, there are many iPhone knock offs available in China already. That probably impacts more to Apple than Google's deal.

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BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.

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